By Rebecca Burton
Associate News Editor
The province will introduce 60,000 new student spots for post-secondary education over the next five years.
President Sheldon Levy, who is also chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, hosted finance minister Dwight Duncan along with head of the Ministry of Collleges, Training and Universities John Milloy for the announcement that was released in a pre-budget conference at Ryerson on Monday.
Duncan said the provincial government wants to raise the number of Ontarians attending university to 70 per cent compared to 56 per cent in 2002.
The new spaces will be implemented by 2015-2016.
“No Ontarian will be turned away,” said Duncan.
Next year the ministry will spend $64 million to start introducing the program. The total program will cost approximately $309 million by 2015-2016.
The Ontario government announced its $16.7 billion deficit Monday, 11 per cent lower than estimated, according to the Globe and Mail.
Duncan did not say how the spots would be funded, but said, “they have laid out a plan to balance the budget.”
Ryerson Students’ Union Vice-President Finance Caitlin Smith said the government shouldn’t be focused on providing more spots when so many students are buried in debt.
“How active will students be in the economy once they graduate if they are in so much debt?” said Smith.
Milloy and Duncan said there will be continued talks over where the spots will be allocated.
The full provincial budget was released on March 29.