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COU Statement: Response to Auditor General’s Annual Report
November 30, 2022

TORONTO, November 30, 2022 – With a shared commitment to efficiency, accountability and the long-term financial health of the sector, Ontario’s universities wish to acknowledge Ontario’s Auditor General for her Annual Report that was released today.

A vibrant and healthy postsecondary sector is critical to meeting the needs of students, fostering community economic growth, driving research and innovation, and developing the highly skilled talent critical to Ontario’s economy.

Currently, Ontario is facing severe labour shortages in the skilled trades, apprenticeships, and high-demand sectors, such as STEM, health care and education. According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, there are 350,000 jobs in Ontario going unfilled. These are shortages that are only expected to grow.

Addressing these shortages will be critical to meeting Ontario’s labour market needs. In fact, universities continue to see rising student demand for university programs. The latest applications data indicates Ontario secondary school applications increased by more than 11 per cent over the last two years.

Ontario’s universities are graduating job-ready and resilient students. In 2021-22, more than 579,000 students were enrolled in Ontario universities, playing a critical role in meeting labour force and scientific and research needs. According to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities Graduate Survey in 2020, 91.2 per cent of 2018 university graduates were employed after six months which increased to 92.7 per cent after two years. In addition, 90.4 per cent were in full time jobs related or somewhat related to their university education.

With a commitment to strong financial management, transparency and accountability, Ontario universities have put forward a Financial Health and Transparency Framework Plan. The framework has helped inform the Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ new University Financial Accountability Framework that was recently developed by the Ministry.

Ontario universities have also released its leading practices in university board governance to ensure strong fiduciary oversight and open and transparent decision-making.

As a sector, we remain committed to working with government and key stakeholders to ensure the financial health of the sector.

After more than two years, Ontario universities are facing significant pressures resulting from the pandemic. Throughout this time, Ontario’s universities have and continue to demonstrate their resilience and strong financial management. However, declining real operating grants per student, a tuition cut and freeze, as well as inordinate delays in international student visa approvals are eroding the sector’s ability to deliver on universities’ mission to support students, communities, and province.

It is why, in order to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of Ontario’s postsecondary sector, universities continue to call for increased financial supports and additional revenue flexibility to help address urgent workforce needs and assist in protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians.