An update on the cutting of Milton campus funding by the PC government in Ontario

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Last week, the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario announced its termination of funding for the construction of three post-secondary institutions across the province. The project was approved by the former provincial government in 2015, but planning has been in the works for nearly a decade. 

After years of preparation and anticipation, Wilfrid Laurier University’s joint Milton campus with Conestoga College will have to wait, along with Ryerson University and Sheridan College’s campus in Brampton, as well as York University and Seneca College’s campus in Markham. 

This cut for funding is saving the provincial government over 300-million dollars and was an abrupt decision made mainly in response to a “fiscal deficit.”

“We were given no signals that the withdrawal of provincial funding was imminent,” said Deborah Dubenofsky, vice-president of finance and administration at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Wilfrid Laurier University, as well as the town of Milton, condemn this decision based on the massive opportunity this campus would have presented to expand educational resources for existing and new programs, as well as making Laurier University and Conestoga College more accessible to students in the GTA.

“We’re of course very disappointed by the withdrawal of the Provincial funding,” Dubenofsky said. 

Although this prospective campus will have to be implemented without assistance from the provincial government at this time, there remains a large degree of commitment from both Wilfrid Laurier University and the town of Milton, in collaboration with many community partners.

“We’ve been working with the town of Milton and community partners for over 10 years to improve access to post-secondary education.”

Milton’s mayor, Gordon Krantz, stated that overwhelming disappointment is “an understatement.” The town of Milton has been working with Laurier and developing plans for the Milton Education Village since March of 2008. 

This village will be an approximately 400-450 acre development which is anticipated to include not only a Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College campus, but an abundance of educational resources for students.

 “The previous government had indicated its preference for the Milton campus to focus on S.T.E.A.M: science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,” Dubenofsky said.  

“Laurier, in concert with Conestoga College, put together a proposal [to facilitate] about 2,500 students in the S.T.E.A.M program.” 

The introduction of engineering programs at Laurier would be a welcomed addition to Laurier’s range of educational options and would be “a differentiator from what we do in both Waterloo and Brantford,” Dubenofsky said, “That is — and remains — a priority.” 

Although this prospective campus will have to be implemented without assistance from the provincial government at this time, there remains a large degree of commitment from both Wilfrid Laurier University and the town of Milton, in collaboration with many community partners. 

“There’s a real interest in proceeding … all of the partners remain steadfast in their commitment to work to see this campus become a reality,” Dubenofsky added. “Members of the community are anxiously waiting Laurier’s arrival.” 

“We are starting to regroup now,” Krantz said. “Moving forward I will make sure that there is a campus here in Milton.” 

However, before there can be talk of a Laurier and Conestoga campus in Milton once again, Laurier, Milton and its partners will need to go back to the drawing board and find a way over this hurdle. 

“In the absence of the provincial funding, Laurier will need to pause and reflect and reset,” Dubenofsky said. 

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