Kanata North aerial view
Partnering to Support Ontario’s Recovery
March 15, 2021

This month marks one year since postsecondary education, and indeed virtually all aspects of life in Ontario were disrupted and changed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As I reflect on a year where we’ve seen adaptability, determination and resilience from our sector, I also look ahead towards Ontario’s recovery and the role our universities can continue to play to support our students, communities and province. 

Through these uncertain times, Ontario’s universities continue to demonstrate the importance of working together to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians, our communities and our provinceIn support of Ontario’s vaccination rollout, for example, universities continue to work with local health officials to provide critical support where needed.  

The individual and collective efforts of university students, researchers and faculty have played a significant role in fighting the pandemic. Ontario researchers were the first to identify and isolate the virus, students collected and distributed desperately needed PPE for frontline healthcare workers and residences on campuses were opened to support health care workers who needed to isolate.  

That spirit of collaboration will be just as important as we work to rebuild our economy.  

Ontario’s universities have a vital role to play in helping communities through this period and by spurring regional economic growth through Ontario’s recovery.  

Vibrant postsecondary institutions will ensure Ontario has the world-class talent, adaptable workforce and ground-breaking innovation it needs to build thriving communities, attract investment, commercialize innovation, reimagine industries, stimulate economic growth and drive regional development.  

Our pre-budget submission details how, through a Five-Point Plan to Support Ontario’s Recovery, government and universities can partner to tackle the priorities that are critical to Ontario’s economic growth, both now and in the future; creating a more prosperous future for our students, communities and the province by: 

  1. Supporting Ontario through COVID-19: Ensure students, researchers and universities continue to address the immediate needs of the province and demonstrate the Ontario Spirit. 
  2. Developing an Adaptable WorkforceEnsure Ontario has a workforce of life-long learners poised to drive innovation and navigate our changing economy. 
  3. Building Thriving RegionsStimulate Ontario’s local economies by investing in cutting-edge infrastructure and attracting top global talent to support growth in communities across the province. 
  4. Driving a Competitive EconomyLeverage made-in-Ontario research and innovation to commercialize new technology and help modernize our manufacturing, health, natural resource and service sectors and increase opportunities for high-demand jobs that will help Ontario retool and rebuild. 
  5. Supporting a Vibrant Postsecondary SectorEnsure Ontario has vibrant and financially stable postsecondary institutions, vital to the economic and social wellbeing of our province and all who live here. 

Everyone has a role to play in Ontario’s recovery, including universities.  

Rebuilding our province will take partnership – across all sectors, regions and levels of government to help build a brighter future – not just for the students we teach, but for the communities we serve. 

Ontario’s universities will continue to provide support at every stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We stand ready to work together to address the urgent needs of the province and help restore a strong, inclusive economy that makes Ontario – and its communities – an attractive place to live and invest. 

By working together, we will emerge stronger, more resilient and better prepared, as we fight against COVID-19, rebuild and safeguard Ontario’s health and economy. 

Steve Orsini

Steve Orsini
President and CEO
Council of Ontario Universities