Highlights of the 2018-19 Ontario Budget (PDAD&C #77)

From: Andrew Thomson, Chief of Government Relations
Date: March 29, 2018
Re: Highlights of the 2018-19 Ontario Budget (PDAD&C #77)

Ontario Budget Continues Approach to OSAP Focused Funding

Yesterday, the Ontario government tabled its budget for 2018-19.  The budget marks a return to deficit financing with a $6.7M gap between revenue and expenses, and an expectation that it will remain in deficit until 2025.

The deficit is driven in large part by recently announced, multi-year commitments to new social program spending.

For the post-secondary sector, the budget continues a trend by this government to focus funding on OSAP enhancements aimed at making education more affordable for a select number of qualified students.

As part of the overall funding changes announced in the budget, they have included:

  • $1.2B more for OSAP over 3 years, related to increased demand on the program and previously announced changes to reduce parental and spousal contributions;
  • $500M over 10 years for postsecondary campus renewal starting in 2020-2021. Universities will be eligible for up to two-thirds of this funding, while the remainder will go to colleges;
  • $11.7M for mental health practitioners on campus for 4 years starting in 2018, funded through the Ministry of Health.

The province has also announced new strategies related in part to the university sector.  These include:

  • Developing a new International PSE strategy – no funding has yet been announced, but emphasis will be on student exchange and experience initiatives;
  • Introducing a new Transformative Technology Partnership fund to accelerate development and commercialization of technologies related to AI, 5G, quantum, autonomous vehicles, and advanced computing that will support transformation of Ontario’s advanced manufacturing sector;
  • Exploring an Intellectual Property Strategy focused on helping firms leverage their IP to commercialize and expand operations in Ontario, with increase emphasis on patent generation.

On balance, the budget continues this government’s existing approach to the post-secondary sector, with modest investments in institutional support and increased emphasis on programmatic supports to individuals, through initiatives like OSAP.

For further information, please refer to the Council of Ontario University statement online.