Toronto, October 5, 2010
Documents secured by the Ontario NDP through a Freedom of Information request show that nine Ontario colleges and universities have spent nearly a million dollars to hire private lobbyists and consultants to influence the McGuinty government. This news comes at a time when post-secondary education institutions in Ontario are the worst funded in Canada and raises concern among students about the use of institutional resources.
“It is a sign of the times that colleges and universities are forced to panhandle for funding from this government,” said Sandy Hudson, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. “It is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars to have public institutions using government grants to lobby for more government grants.”
The documents released today show that York University led the way by spending $491,000 on three lobby firms, while eight other institutions spent tens of thousands of dollars each to lobby the government. Despite these contracted services, each college and university continues to spend millions on fundraising and endowment offices, as well as membership fees in provincial and national associations whose job it is to lobby government.
“College and university administrators have been justifying tuition fee increases on the basis of government underfunding, so it is very frustrating to learn that they are squandering limited resources on consultants and lobbyists,” said Hudson. “This money should be spent on students.”
Statistics Canada reports that per-student funding for post-secondary education in Ontario is 24 percent lower than the rest of Canada. The effect of this underfunding is being felt hardest in the classroom, where Ontario students are paying the highest fees in Canada while studying in classes that are 37 percent larger than the national average.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites more than 300,000 college and university students studying at public post-secondary institutions across the province.