Ontario's public colleges provide education that's worth more. But funding for academic operations and facilities maintenance has not kept pace with the college system's growth. So, the organization representing Ontario's 24 colleges and institutes has launched an on-line campaign to ask the public to voice support of the call for more funding.
The Association of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology of Ontario (ACAATO) has created a site at www.fundcollegesnow.ca as a vehicle for the expression of public support which can be brought to the attention of Premier Dalton McGuinty, Minister of Finance Gregory Sorbara, MPPs and government decision-makers in advance of this spring's provincial budget.
In addition to the petition, the campaign features bus shelter ads around Queen's Park and ads in major Toronto newspapers (ads will be in the March 17 edition of the Toronto Star and the March 18 edition of The Globe and Mail).
"While our advertising campaign is edgy and bold, it is also a relatively small campaign," says ACAATO President David Lindsay. He adds, however, that the on-line petition is a low-cost, quick and convenient way for Ontarians to express their confidence in and appreciation of Ontario's colleges and institutes: "We must demonstrate that people do support colleges and they support the Rae Report's recommendations for improved funding."
On February 7, the Rae Review on Post-Secondary Education filed its findings with the Ontario government.
The report confirms that Ontario's public colleges need greater levels of investment, to serve Ontarians better.
Data reveal that:
In 2003-04, Ontario's colleges served 53 per cent more students than was the case 15 years earlier, yet received 29 per cent less in grant and fee income (after inflation).
Ontario's colleges currently rank last among the ten provinces in terms of per-student revenue.
Within Ontario, colleges have lower per-student funding than either universities or high schools.
Competing jurisdictions throughout the world are making major investments in higher education.
Virtually all aspects of Ontario's economic and social well-being rely on a highly educated workforce. Yet, at the present time, only 53 per cent of the 25-to-34 year-old age group has a post-secondary education. In today's competitive, knowledge-based economy, Ontario has to produce greater numbers of skilled graduates in all walks of life.
The Rae Review has called for an additional $400 million in basic operating funds for Ontario's colleges by the 2007-08 fiscal year. In releasing his report, Mr. Rae said that the time to start is in the spring 2005 Ontario budget, and ACAATO agrees.
The site at www.fundcollegesnow.ca is available for expressions of support through mid-April.
CONTACT: Conestoga College Public Affairs firstname.lastname@example.org