Canada faces funding freeze

February 1, 2002

Universities in British Columbia are awaiting details of the implications of the province's decision to freeze its education funding for three years.

And in Ontario, there is speculation that the province may not be ready to accommodate a double cohort of high-school graduates next year.

The Liberal government of BC chopped a third of its 35,000 government postings and announced an 8 per cent spending cut, equalling C$1.9 billion (£830 million). While most ministries had budgets cut by a quarter, education and health had their budgets frozen. The government is reviewing tuition fees and welcoming further private-sector involvement.

The freeze could mean the four-year-old Technical University of British Columbia may close and ministry funding for the Open Learning Agency, a world leader in distance education, is in doubt.

Advanced education minister Shirley Bond admitted there were challenges ahead.

In Ontario, enrolment is expected to grow by more than a fifth, as an additional 33,500 secondary-school students are expected to be added to the student population. The Ontario government has pledged C$600 million to help accommodate the students.

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