The Ontario Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Canada condemns the recent announcements from the Doug Ford government, allowing for more private degree-granting institutions and moving forward with “performance-based” funding. These changes are part of an accelerating effort to expand corporate involvement and influence in post-secondary education (PSE) and deny hundreds of thousands of people of their right to an education.

The Ontario Conservatives are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to fast-track legislation that grants university status to three private institutions. These include the Canada Christian College, run by fundamentalist preacher and staunch Ford ally Charles McVety. McVety has repeatedly used his institution to promote Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. The government’s legislation will now allow him to further promote those hateful ideologies, under cover of academic legitimacy.

Beyond the scandal involving McVety, the Tories’ decision to fast-track further privatization of PSE indicates clearly their determination to systematically diminish the role of public funding, standards and oversight of post-secondary education in Ontario.

The government has also indicated it will move ahead with previously announced plans to introduce “performance-based” funding, in which public funding would be pinned to labour market needs. Under this scheme, post-secondary institutions would no longer receive funding based on enrollment – an arrangement that is already inadequate, especially for smaller institutions and those in areas outside major urban centres – and would instead be financially supported according to student outcomes such as hiring rates and employment earnings. Without a doubt, this will benefit professional programs and those that are linked with specific industrial entities, at the expense of a huge range of liberal arts, humanities and languages programs, and critical intellectual inquiry such as Marxism, feminism, anti-racism and anti-colonialism.

Furthermore, performance-based funding will devastate smaller colleges and universities, those outside major urban areas (particularly in Northern Ontario) and francophone institutions. To survive, such schools will face enormous pressure to shed programs and become dedicated training academies for specific industries. It is a policy that is specifically designed to allow corporations to sink their claws further into education.

Government spokespersons have declared that the proposed funding will not save the province money, proof that these changes are being introduced for purely ideological reasons.

Public education, from cradle to grave, has been a longstanding demand of the working class movement. The Communist Party has been at the forefront of the fight for public education for all of its 99-year history, and we are committed to working with workers, students and communities to mobilize a strong defense of PSE against this latest corporate attack.

Special Resolution of the Ontario Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of Canada, November 29, 2020.