By Lee Richardson
There was some commotion in the refurbished Maple Leaf Gardens this weekend. For whatever reason, Glen Murray, former Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, chose a building known for its vast selection of cupcakes to announce Sunday that he will be running for Ontario Premier.
His only competitor so far is Kathleen Wynne, former education minister for the Liberals.
While Wynne has not yet announced her plans to reform the province’s post-secondary sector, Murray is pushing his plans regarding students to the front of his platform.
His fi rst step is a ‘no money down’ tuition program, which involves not paying a penny for your education until you’re comfortably employed.
All well and good, except there’s a problem with when all that money could be paid back. For starters, students are having trouble finding work after graduation. A StatsCan study released in October shows June’s unemployment rate for Canadians aged 18-24 was 14.8 per cent – the highest in 21 months. That figure is double the 5.8 per cent unemployment rate of people 25 and over.
Don’t get me wrong – opening the doors to university educations for those who can’t afford it straight out of school would be nice. Though in the long-term the benefit-cost ratio may waver. More students heading into university means more graduates eventually entering the job market with the same degrees, which wouldn’t help those 18-24 unemployment figures.
Murray deserves respect for highlighting tuition as a provincial concern.
However, it is too early to view his pitch as the saviour of the education sector. Right now it’s best to sit, watch what competition unfolds and eat a cupcake or two.