Restoring and Reforming Post-secondary Education Funding
This policy is consistent with Green Party policy on education. Current policy G06-p22 already establishes that the Green Party will provide adequate federal payments focused on student accessibility. The current version of Vision Green and states that there will be earmarked federal transfer payments for education. This motion makes explicit how the funding will be provided, sets a funding level and calls for conditions for how the funds are spent, although the conditions are not defined.
Whereas post-secondary education tuition fees have risen over 40% in the last decade, faster than all other student costs, and
Whereas the shift from a cost-sharing model to a block-sharing model for federal funding of post-secondary education has served to obscure the funding cuts that have taken place, and
Whereas the portion of the CST (Canada Social Transfer) federal transfer payment earmarked for post-secondary education funding comes with no conditions attached requiring that the provinces actually devote the money to funding education, as is the case with the CHT (Canada Health Transfer), and
Whereas the lack of national oversight of post-secondary education has led to dramatically higher tuition fees and wide variation in the levels of access throughout the country,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT a Green government will separate federal transfer payments earmarked for post-secondary education out of the CST (Canada Social Transfer) into the CET (Canada Education Transfer) which will come with conditions on how funding for post-secondary education is spent, while restoring the federal portion of post-secondary education funding to a level of 0.35% of GDP.
Federal cash transfers for post-secondary education in the last decade have declined by 50 percent when measured as a proportion of GDP. When accounting for inflation and increases in enrolment, cash transfers are over $400 million short of 1992 levels. As a result, tuition fees and class sizes have increased substantially; between 1990 and 2006 the ratio of students to full-time faculty members increased by almost 40 percent.
Facing funding shortfalls, colleges and universities have increasingly sought to defer maintenance and upkeep on campus buildings to the point where in 2009 it was estimated that the total value of deferred maintenance on Canadian campuses had reach $5 billion, half of which was considered urgent. At the same time, since 2009 governments have invested large amounts in highly visible new infrastructure projects that they could point to as political successes, though the federal government restricted its contributions to the value of 50 percent of any project, leaving institutions to find the remainder from local government and private sources, limiting the effectiveness of the funding.
There is now a consensus in the post-secondary education community that the current design of federal transfers has failed to ensure that Canadians across the country have equitable access to a high quality system of post-secondary education. In 2013-14 average annual undergraduate tuition fees for arts and sciences ranged from $2644 in Newfoundland to $7259 in Ontario. What is needed is for federal transfers for post-secondary education to be separated out from the CST and legislation to be passed that defines
Canada-wide standards and the requirements of transfer payments. Funding to provinces would be tied to a commitment from them on public administration, affordability, comprehensiveness, collegial governance, and academic freedom.
Too many young people are graduating from post-secondary education with enormous debts, or are choosing not to pursue it at all. Education will be a vital part of the economic and social success of Canada in the coming decades. It’s time to reverse the massive tuition fee increases and decline in quality standards of the last two decades.
The Canadian Federation of Students has produced an excellent fact sheet outlining the history of the problems we now face, and the proposed solution upon which this resolution is based. It can be accessed at: http://cfs-fcee.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/11/Fact-Sheet-Funding...