RYERSON GETTING CHUMMY WITH GRITS, PROVINCE TO VACATE OFFICES

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By Shannon Higgins

Ryerson has received a greater increase in provincial funding than any other Ontario university in the last five years, according to a McGuinty cabinet minister.

The province has increased funding at Ryerson by 60 per cent, compared to an average of 40 to 45 per cent in the rest of the province since 2002-2003, said Chris Bentley, minister of training, colleges and universities.

The Eyeopener has also learned Health Force Ontario and Global Experience Ontario (GEO) will leave the Victoria Street building later this year. The school will be left with newly-renovated office space paid for by the Liberals.

President Sheldon Levy said that after the School of Business moved to Bay Street, the province struck a deal with Ryerson to pay for the renovations on the seventh floor in return for using the space rent-free.

“We wanted to consider options for redevelopment of that site. We couldn’t just move in hundreds of people into that building without [the] significant cost of renovating. We have somebody who would renovate the building, pay for utilities … it was better than leaving it empty. Much better,” said Levy.

He added that the nature of both agencies is “synergistic” with Ryerson.

Health Force Ontario works to attract and maintain healthcare providers across Ontario, while GEO helps foreign trained professionals in several fields meet the criteria for working in Ontario.

But after paying for a facelift that included new carpets and a paint job, both agencies are tentatively leaving less than a year after they moved in.

Russ Harrington, director of Health Force Ontario, said that part of the agreement was they would stay temporarily. “Leaving is not fixed, but I would guess it would be this time next year,” he said.

This is not the first time this year Ryerson has enjoyed the benefits of a rosy relationship with the province.

Last February, the Liberals gave Ryerson $5 million to create programs for international professionals, out of a $29.2-million pot set aside for universities. Earlier this month, local MPP George Smitherman said Ryerson may receive the province’s newly acquired Sears property.

Bentley said Levy has been a great help to the Liberal government. “[He] has helped the province in formulating provincial policy.”

Levy denies any special treatment. “I would say it’s positive. But I would say I would have a positive relationship with any government,” he said.

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