Queen's applauds provincial budget funding for universities
Queen's University welcomes the Ontario government's significant investments in postsecondary infrastructure, research and operating funding announced in the budget on March 26.
"The Premier has demonstrated strong leadership on higher education," said Principal Tom Williams. "The government's investments demonstrate its recognition of the role universities like Queen's play in developing the knowledge workers of tomorrow, and in driving innovation, economic growth and social well-being."
The province has committed $780 million to support campus renewal and new buildings. The money will match federal funding for postsecondary infrastructure.
"We have shovel-ready projects waiting to go, provided full funding is made available," said Principal Williams. "Moving forward with a new medical school building, the expansion of the Queen's School of Business and the Performing Arts Centre, to name a few examples, will provide our students and faculty with more modern facilities needed for a high-quality learning experience and cutting-edge research, as well as increase capacity in Commerce and Medicine. The projects will also create local jobs and stimulate the Kingston economy."
The infrastructure money can be used for energy retrofits and an inventory of deferred maintenance projects at Queen's, including new roofs, boilers, plumbing and electrical systems. The funding is also earmarked for new labs, classrooms and research facilities.
The budget also pledges $300 million over six years for research infrastructure, including targeted funds for biomedicine, clean technologies, health and life sciences and information and communications technologies.
"These investments will help Queen's researchers to continue developing innovative projects that push the boundaries of knowledge and contribute to Ontario's economy and competitiveness," said Principal Williams.
The provincial government is also targeting $150 million in "immediate, one-time support" for colleges and universities in response to enrolment and operating pressures.
"This funding is most welcome," said Principal Williams. "Like most other Ontario universities, Queen's faces serious financial challenges on the operating side. We look forward to hearing the details of how this money will be distributed."
The University will continue implementing a 15 per cent budget cut across all academic and administrative units over three years in order to make long-term changes and get back onto a firm financial footing.
"Although this one-time operating funding is very good news, we must continue to look at the long term, and ways of reducing our overall wage bill," said Principal Williams. "Let's not be lulled into to a false sense of complacency. There are hard decisions that we must make together as a community. Salaries and benefits represent 70 per cent of the operating budget and I urge faculty and staff representatives to sit down with me to seriously discuss options for moving forward. Without some movement, students, faculty, staff and the entire Queen's community will face long-term financial difficulties that will adversely affect the University in significant ways."
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