Ontario’s universities reacted positively to new spending initiatives contained in the provincial budget tabled at the end of March. Among the highlights, the Ontario government will invest $200 million this year for the maintenance and renewal of university facilities, building on earlier investments through the government’s $6.2-billion Reaching Higher plan. The province’s universities appreciate the government’s “sustained focus on advancing higher education,” said Peter George, president of McMaster University and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities.
The budget also includes $250 million over the next five years to the Ontario Research Fund for investments in research infrastructure at provincial institutions. As well, the budget provides $385 million over the next three years for an annual textbook and technology grant for full-time postsecondary students worth $150 this fall and rising to $300 in 2010.
But not everyone was pleased. Brian Brown, a University of Windsor professor and president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said the budget should have directed $440 million to hire 5,500 additional faculty members to bring Ontario’s student-faculty ratios to the Canadian average.
The government also announced the appointment of urban thinker Richard Florida, a professor at U of T’s Rotman School of Management, and Roger Martin, Rotman’s dean, to study the changing composition of Ontario’s economy and work force. As well, the province has earmarked more than $7 million over three years to attract postsecondary students from around the world to Ontario.