By Tanya Talaga
Excerpt from: The Toronto Star. July 21, 2010
Full article at:
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s long arm of restraint is now reaching to the university sector. The Ontario government is calling on universities to keep collective bargaining pay hikes frozen at 0 per cent for two years. But after the two years are up, wage increases will be governed to an extent by the province’s 1.9 per cent cap on expenditure growth.
On Tuesday, Duncan told representatives of more than 1 million public-sector workers they had to do their part to save the province money as it battles a $19.7 billion deficit. The cash-strapped university sector now worries the government will not give it enough to fund enrolment growth needs. In the last budget, Ontario committed to opening 20,000 new spaces in colleges and universities. Not providing enough cash for enrolment could pose a major problem for universities experiencing enrolment spikes. In its 2010 budget, the province called attracting foreign students a good way to make money.
There are 11 university bargaining units negotiating now in Ontario. The Canadian Association of University Teachers is organizing a conference call Thursday with all its academic staff associations.
‘I don’t frankly know what is happening,” said James Turk, executive director of the CAUT, which represents 65,000 academic staff at 122 universities and colleges across the nation. “It’s a bit of a mess right now.”