OCUFA analysis of the Drummond Report: all cuts, no substance

ocufa.on.ca – Volume 6, Issue 5
February 23, 2012.   Editor

After reviewing the final report of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, faculty and academic librarians are unimpressed. Drummond has provided Ontario with a poor plan for ‘transforming’ our public services, and is essentially a plan for huge cuts to public spending hiding behind a screen of poorly costed and ill-considered recommendations for change. In particular, the report:

  1. Is based on a variety of questionable economic assumptions, predictions and forecasts;
  2. Is first and foremost a plan for significant cuts to spending, including university funding;
  3. Sets the stage for hard-bargaining throughout the broader public service;
  4. Proposes a funding framework for higher education that does not keep pace with inflation or enrolment, and as the paper admits, will lead to a decline in quality;
  5. Provides recommendations for generating efficiency and savings in the higher education sector, with no evidence of how this will happen or how much it will save;
  6. Proposes shifting educational cost onto the backs of students and their families; and
  7. Relies on third-party policy entrepreneurs for research, much of which is incorrect.

In short, this is not the way forward for Ontario. The downturn-as-justification-for-cuts scenario is an old one, and it has been rejected by the public before. It is now critical that the Government of Ontario pursue an alternative strategy that takes into account the needs and concerns of Ontarians – a strategy that protects education, promotes effective economic and social development,  and rejects the logic of austerity.

Download the OCUFA Analysis

Reality Check: The Drummond Report is a cut any way you slice it
The Drummond Report claims that it “protects annual growth in post-secondary funding at a time when many other public services will be rationalized.” True, it does recommend that postsecondary expenditures continue to increase by 1.5 per cent per year. But a quick look at the data reveals the truth: Drummond actually recommending a severe cut to the operating budgets of our institutions.

On the commission’s own assumptions and proposals – 1.7 per cent annual enrolment growth, 1.9 per cent annual inflation, and 1.5 per cent annual increases in post-secondary funding – per student funding will decline by 12 per cent between now and 2017-18.

If university funding is allocated according to the enrolment balance of college, undergraduate and graduate students who are eligible for funding, inflation-adjusted provincial funding per college student could fall by $790, and per undergraduate student could decline by almost $940. For graduate students, the reduction could be $2,280.

You can call a cut an increase, Mr. Drummond, but you can’t hide the data.

Source: Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for enrolment data; Ministry of Finance for Expenditure Estimates.

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