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Reaching Higher: The McGuinty Government Plan For Postsecondary Education

Archived Backgrounder

Reaching Higher: The McGuinty Government Plan For Postsecondary Education

Largest Multi-Year Investment In 40 Years

Office of the Premier

The McGuinty government understands that, in today's knowledge economy, education is the prerequisite for prosperity. The brains and know-how of a skilled workforce are the competitive edge of the 21st century.

The Budget announced the McGuinty government's action plan for colleges, universities and training, highlighted by a $6.2 billion cumulative investment by 2009-10. This investment includes an additional $683 million in 2005-06, rising to $1.6 billion by 2009-10.

This historic, multi-year investment in postsecondary education -- the largest in 40 years -- would represent a 39 per cent increase compared to the 2004-05 funding base. With the Reaching Higher investments, the people of Ontario will see improved access and quality in postsecondary education, better facilities and postsecondary institutions will be held accountable for accomplishing these objectives.

Access -- Student Financial Assistance

  • Provide $358 million in new investment in student financial assistance by 2009-10, more than double the base funding provided in 2004-05

  • Improve student financial assistance for 135,000 low- and middle-income students in 2005-06

  • Continue the tuition freeze for 2005-06 and begin work immediately with students, colleges and universities on a new tuition framework to be in place by September 2006

  • Offer -- in co-operation with the federal government and the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation -- new low-income tuition grants of up to $6,000 for 16,000 first-year dependent students

  • Further enhance student support with an Ontario-only grant of up to $3,000 for 16,000 second-year dependent students

  • Join with the federal government to expand eligibility for student loans and increase weekly loan amounts from $110 to $140 for single students

  • Reduce how much money middle-income parents are expected to contribute to their children's education, expand interest relief and recognize computer costs in student loan needs assessments

  • Provide $50 million annually to match funds raised by colleges and universities to establish endowments for student financial assistance. A new Ontario Trust for Student Support will be based on an allocation method that takes into consideration the limited fundraising capacity of smaller institutions

  • Continue to work with the federal government to broaden and expand student assistance in 2006-07 and beyond.

Access -- Enrolment and Outreach

  • Significantly increase enrolment in colleges and universities

  • Substantially expand graduate education by 12,000 students in 2007-08 and 14,000 by 2009-10 through new investments of $220 million annually by 2009-10

  • Invest $95 million in new funding to increase the number of new, first-year medical education spaces by 15 per cent, and improve the quality of medical education

  • Increase the number of new annual entrants into apprenticeship by 7,000, reaching 26,000 total by 2007-08

  • Invest $10 million in 2005-06, rising to $55 million by 2009-10, to undertake new programs and outreach for under-represented groups such as francophones, aboriginals, people with disabilities and those who would be the first in their family to attend college or university

  • Provide $20 million in new funding for northern and rural colleges by 2007-08 to increase access to high-quality programs in their communities

  • Pilot a new, community-based nursing education program in northern Ontario

  • Implement a new strategy to attract more international students and encourage study abroad for Ontario students.


  • Increase faculty at colleges and universities to accommodate higher enrolment and improve student success

  • Provide capital support to ensure that medical schools and graduate departments can accommodate the increased number of students

  • Propose to establish a Research Council of Ontario to advise on and co-ordinate research priorities and to raise Ontario's profile as an international research centre

  • Work with postsecondary institutions to ensure that the student experience is enhanced

  • Improve pathways for students and increase collaboration between Ontario colleges and universities.


  • Create multi-year agreements between the government and institutions that would set out enrolment and quality improvement targets

  • Propose to establish a new, arm's-length, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario to take a lead role in supporting quality improvement in postsecondary education

  • Propose to make Ontario's universities subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and ensure that Ontario publicly funded postsecondary institutions are transparent and accountable to the people of Ontario, while respecting academic freedom and competitiveness.

A Responsive Training and Apprenticeship System
The Budget builds on current programs with new training investments that reinforce the government's priorities, including:

  • An additional $17.5 million annually by 2007-08 to create more systematic and supported access to labour-market services for two priority client groups: new Canadians and prospective apprentices, as part of the One-Stop Training and Employment System, announced last year

  • $2.5 million to expand the Bridge Training program, supporting additional projects to assess competencies and provide training and work experience for skilled new Canadians

  • $4 million over the next two years for colleges to pilot improved processes and programs that will help new Canadian students gain better access to college training and jobs

  • $1 million over two years for pilot programs to help employers better recognize and use the skills of new Canadians. The first pilot will support the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council for outreach with employers in the Greater Toronto Area.



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