Definition: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes
- By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
- By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
- By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
List of Policy Changes and Cuts:
- Cancelled funding to build post-secondary satellite campuses
- New conditions set for university funding
- Reduced funding for specialized programs in elementary and secondary schools
- Increased intermediate and high school class sizes
- Reduced tuition for post secondary institutions
- Reduced funding to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, and changed conditions concerning repayment
Education has been proven to be a significant determinant of health, with the World Health Organization determining that low education levels contribute to poorer health.[i]
Elementary and secondary schools have been impacted by funding changes that will affect the quality of teaching, as well as support programs available to students. The average class size requirement for Grades 9 to 12 will be adjusted to 28 students, up from the current average of 22 students. The larger class size adjustment has already led to course cancellations in various school boards for the upcoming academic year. These cancellations not only have a bearing on the quality of education that students receive but prevents students from enrolling in specialized courses in secondary school that would help guide their career interests. The government has also reduced funding for specialized programs in elementary and secondary schools across the province. The funding change affected programs that encouraged physical activity among students and offered in-class tutors to children, as well as vital extension programs for racialized youth.
The funding for the development of three post-secondary satellite campuses around the GTA was cancelled in the fall of 2018. As the regions associated the prospective satellite campuses have experienced significant population growth in recent years, such as Brampton, there was merit to increase accessibility and provide more local opportunities for individuals to pursue higher learning. The cancelled funding signifies a limit in the growth of opportunities for individuals to augment their education, thus hindering the expansion of career opportunities available to them.
The proportion of funding that will be provided to universities will be based on a new set of measured performance indicators. The government has stated that it will tie 60 per cent of its post-secondary funding over the next few years to how universities and colleges perform on 10 measures, with six of the metrics pertaining to skills and job outcomes, including earnings. There are certain fields that are taught in college and university that may not necessarily translate into high-earning jobs but are valuable, nonetheless. Funding allocation based on a metric like earnings could disincentivize post-secondary institutions from offering programs in such fields.
Post-secondary students have also been impacted by changes related to the cost of education. While a 10 per cent decrease in tuition was announced resulting in an average savings of $660 per student, assistance programs experienced a significant funding loss. The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), which offers grants and loans to assist Ontario students attending post-secondary school, experienced a $671 million decrease in spending. Based on the initial estimates provided by OSAP, this has resulted in reduced grant aid and increased loan aid among students – including for students from low-income families. It has reduced the parental income threshold at which students would be eligible for OSAP grants. Further, without compensation to universities to offset the mandated 10 per cent decrease in tuition, there is a possibility that reductions in resources will affect the quality of education and the programming in Ontario’s institutions.
There have been curriculum changes, however much of the emphasis appears to be on finding efficiencies through reduced funding. This will impact the accessibility of educational opportunities, restrict career opportunities, and affect the overall health of those impacted in the process.
[i] World Health Organization. Health Impact Assessment: The Social Determinants of Health. Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en/.