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Deep pockets? Liberals place funding burden on students’ shoulders

By Craig Saila

The liberal education platform suggests students will be charged with the responsibility of keeping university funding stable.

Candidate Bob Wong says under a Liberal government, university and college funding will remain “stable.” He says the Liberals would not raise tuition to compensate for federal funding cutbacks.

But the Ontario Liberal Plan says “tuition should reflect inflation.” At the same time, it says students should pay a “fair and appropriate share” of the cost of post-secondary education. “Fair and appropriate” is not defined in the Red Book. Students now pay approximately 20 per cent of the cost of post-secondary education.

The vagueness of the Liberal platform leaves the question of how much students would pay under a Liberal government unanswered.

“The optimum path is to have stable funding,” says Wong, a former cabinet member in ex-premier David Peterson’s Liberal government between 1987 and 1990.

The Liberal plan to maintain funding at current levels will only cover their term in office. The Liberals have no set plan beyond those four years.

“We deem education an essential service,” says Wong.

In the meantime, Wong says universities and colleges should be “streamlining” their spending to allocate money to more useful areas.

The Liberals also plan to integrate universities and colleges for a more hands-on approach to education.

Wong says students can expect some increased funding for summer job programs but the majority of jobs will come from improving the business climate in Ontario.

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