OCUFA to Drummond: You can’t drive Ontario forward on a half-empty tank

ocufa.on.ca – research-publications/ocufa-report – Volume 6, Issue 4
February 16, 2012.   Editor

OCUFA is criticizing the report of the Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services for being long on cuts and short on insights. Taken together, Drummond’s recommendations would continue the erosion of educational quality at Ontario’s universities and colleges.

“Drummond recognizes that higher education is severely underfunded. He also recognizes that universities and colleges are the keys to social vitality and economic success,” said Constance Adamson, OCUFA President. “True ‘transformational change’ requires the courage to fund the sector at a level that allows it to succeed. By only fiddling around the margins, Drummond is proposing that higher education drive Ontario forward on a half-empty tank.”

Drummond’s chief recommendation is that government funding of universities and colleges be limited to 1.5 per cent per year. As the report itself points out, this is an effective cut to higher education funding that does not keep pace with enrolment or inflation. Ontario’s universities already receive 25 per cent less per-student funding than they did in 1990; Drummond’s recommendations will make this under-funding even worse.

Drummond’s recommendations also contain serious factual errors. He recommends that Ontario faculty contracts be brought in line with the broader public sector. In 2011, faculty compensation increases were below both the private sector and broader public sector, at 1.5 per cent. The report further recommends that faculty be given more flexibility to adjust how much teaching and research they do. Right now, almost all of Ontario faculty’s collective agreements allow them to do exactly that.

“If Drummond had bothered to ask Ontario faculty about their jobs, we could have given him a better idea of what was actually going on. As it is, his picture is incomplete,” said Adamson.

“Overall, Drummond is asking Ontario’s universities to do more with less. But in the face of steadily rising enrolment, this just means less for our students: less interaction with professors, fewer learning choices, and more barriers to young people seeking an exceptional experience.”

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