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Ontario legislature resumes with lingering questions on plan for post-secondary

TORONTO — Ontario’s members of provincial parliament head back to the legislature today after a 10-week break from sitting and many eyes will likely be on the colleges and universities minister.

The governing Progressive Conservatives have already indicated they’ll introduce legislation this session on automatic licence plate renewals, energy and housing, but a major lingering question is what the province will do about the post-secondary sector.

Colleges and universities have already been grappling with frozen tuition-fee revenues and low and stagnant levels of operating funding from the government, but they are also now facing a loss of revenue from international students with news of a federal cap on visas.

Many institutions had turned to international students, who pay much higher tuition than domestic students, as a way to make up for the tuition and government funding shortfalls, but there are suggestions some institutions accepted too many with not enough regard for their housing needs.

Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop has not yet provided a substantive response to a government-commissioned report recommending increasing tuition, student aid and operating funding, nor has she publicly spoken much about the student visa cap. 

The first bill the government plans to introduce will be a piece of omnibus legislation, covering political pledges to require a referendum on any new provincial carbon tax and to ban new provincial highway tolls, as well as enabling automatic licence plate renewals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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