More labour action on the horizon as institutions struggle with inadequate funding

March 23, 2015

Toronto Star reporter Robin Levinson King argues that stagnant PSE funding and austerity budgets mean that the kind of labour strife taking place at the University of Toronto and York University is bound to continue. The article describes a “pressure-cooker atmosphere” in which institutions are forced to continually attract more students and grow programs while cutting labour costs. While ON has increased operating grants to its universities by 86% since 2002, per-student funding is now at the lowest level in the country. When adjusted for inflation, it has not increased since 2007. These conditions force administrators to find alternate sources of money, including increased tuition fees, reduced graduate student funding, or cuts to labour costs. Students end up getting caught in the middle: institutions offer graduate students tuition rebates, grants, and on-campus work, but funding packages are not keeping up with financial pressures. Unfortunately, without adequate, predictable funding from the government, there is little relief in sight. “This challenging fiscal context shows no sign of abating—and indeed, may be further exacerbated by the demographic projections which suggest overall university enrolments may flatten or decline for a period of time over the next several years,” said Gary Brewer, York’s VP Finance and Administration. Toronto Star