On Wednesday, May 16, a coalition of student and employee groups at Laurier, Waterloo, and Conestoga hosted a debate on post-secondary education issues with provincial candidates in the Waterloo riding. We’d like to thank Kimberly Ellis-Hale from the Laurier faculty association in particular for her leadership in organizing this event.
The participating candidates were:
- Green Party: Zdravko Gunjevic
- Liberal Party: Dorothy McCabe
- New Democratic Party (NDP): Catherine Fife
- Progressive Conservative (PC) Party: Dan Weber
You can watch a recording of the debate on the Laurier Students’ Union Facebook page (even without a Facebook account).
Don’t have time to watch? Here are a few highlights of what each candidate said about their party’s stance on key PSE issues. Note that this is hardly an exhaustive summary of the conversation.
Provincial funding, faculty renewal, and tuition fees
- The Green Party wants to move toward free, publicly-funded tuition for all post-secondary students, with interest-free loans in the meantime.
- The Liberal government has increased funding for institutions and students by 85% over the last 15 years and believes, regarding faculty renewal, that how universities hire is up to them.
- The Progressive Conservatives believe the top priority for the prinvice is a strong economy and that we need to balance a strong post-secondary sector with responsible government.
- The NDP will move forward with a faculty renewal strategy, and ensure oversight and strategy for implementing the recent equal pay for equal work legislation. The NDP supports grants over loans for students with financial need.
Mental health on campuses
- The Progressive Conservatives would partner with community organizations rather than reinvent approaches. Candidate Dan Weber said no one has done enough in this area, that everyone needs to be ready to help, and that the PCs.
- The NDP would implement the recommendations of a 2010 expert committee, including forming a ministry of mental health and addiction, consolidating funding currently spread over a dozen ministries.
- The Green Party would form an umbrella organization to consolidate action on mental health and addiction across the province.
- The Liberal government has expanded funding for addressing mental health on campuses, including $45 million over three years already in place.
- The Liberal Party hopes to see Bill 148 addressed in collective bargaining.
- The PCs would jointly develop a path forward with experts on this issue. Candidate Dan Weber noted that income tax and the high cost of living in Ontario also contribute to the struggles of contract faculty.
- The NDP would enforce Bill 148—and lift the budget freeze so that administrators are able to reverse the trend toward contract faculty.
- The Green Party would implement a standard contract minimum of three courses a semester.