By David Lindsay
Now that the lawn signs have been removed and the campaign buses put back in the depot, our attention will turn from the hustings to what the future holds for Ontario under the new Progressive Conservative government.
MPPs – 73 of them new – are settling into their roles, while Premier-designate Doug Ford is assembling his ministerial team and charting the course for his first months in office.
From jobs and skills and health care, to public infrastructure and services, universities are deeply engaged in working with partners to find solutions and improve outcomes for all Ontarians in the areas they said they cared most about during this year’s election.
In this sense, universities are in a unique position to work with the new government to help it succeed in its mission to improve the economy and the lives of Ontarians. To paraphrase the famous quote, we should not ask a new government what it can do for us, but ask what we can do together for the province..
Working together for a better future for Ontario is something we all aspire to, and universities are ready to help.
In our report Partnering for a Better Future for Ontario, Ontario’s universities made 28 commitments across eight priority areas, outlining our vision of how we can contribute to a better future for students, communities and the province. Many of these commitments are aligned with the incoming government’s goals for a more prosperous, affordable and thriving province.
On jobs and skills, for example, universities have committed to working with employers, other public-sector institutions, non-profits and the government to extend real-life, work-related learning opportunities to each and every student in the coming years – not just in the STEM and professional programs, but to humanities students too.
On health care, we have committed not only to keep educating our doctors and other health-care professionals to the highest of standards, but also to work closely with local communities to help service providers deliver the best preventive and senior care − a major factor in reducing crowding in hospitals and preventing hallway medicine.
On the economy, Ontario’s universities are dedicated to strengthening relationships with industry and employers to ensure their research and expertise is put to the best possible use in driving business growth, entrepreneurism and job creation.
In these and many other areas, there is clear synergy between the new government’s priorities and the investments universities are making in Ontario’s future.
Meanwhile, as the government works on its long-term agenda, political issues are already cropping up, such as NAFTA renegotiation and Canada’s trade spat with Washington. Premier-designate Ford has taken a keen interest in this, and universities and their researchers have offered any help stakeholders may need as NAFTA talks unfold. One notable resource is the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute, which conducts research on cross-border logistics, transportation policy and regional economic development.
Strong postsecondary institutions are vital for a strong Ontario, and universities stand ready to be good partners.
President and CEO
Council of Ontario Universities