Higher Education in Ontario 1965
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 11 Feb 1965, p. 205-216

Frost, The Honourable Leslie M., Speaker
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Item Type:
The speaker's background and involvement in education. Education as Canada's greatest problem, greatest challenge, and greatest opportunity. Changes over the last 20 years in Ontario; in education almost a revolution. Some of the changes and the factors that brought about the changes. Statistics. Comparisons of school and university population and a look at the costs involved. Cost as an investment in human resources, upon the success of which our future will depend. The objective of equality of opportunity. Universities in Ontario over the past 20 years: what has been done. Funding the universities. The Committee on University Affairs recommendation to the Government for the establishment of a Department of University Affairs. What this will enable. Change from traditional methods within the universities, with examples from Waterloo, McMaster, and York universities. Some personal views of the speaker of the possibilities in higher education, not related to the university as such. A plan for higher education that "should be designed to utilize our manpower in the best way." Optimism for the future of higher education in Canada.
Date of Original:
11 Feb 1965
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Full Text
FEBRUARY 11,1965
Higher Education in Ontario 1965
CHAIRMAN, The President, Lt. Col. Robert H. Hilborn


In 1961 the second meeting of our Club year was addressed by the then Premier of Ontario, our guest of honour again today, the Honourable Leslie M. Frost. It is interesting that on that occasion he was introduced by Dr. Z. S. Phimister who himself has recently been promoted to the subject of our guest's address "Higher Education in Ontario."

The Hon. Leslie Frost has served his country with distinction in peace and war. His contribution to political life in Ontario deserves to be rated at its highest worth. I believe that what the Economist recently said about R. A. Butler's influence in the United Kingdom applies to that of Leslie Frost in Ontario. They opine that during these last extraordinary two decades it would not have become natural for so large a part of the decisive middle section of intelligent opinion to associate the concept of progress with a party that calls itself Conservative were it not for him.

Less than a week after last speaking from this Club's rostrum, Mr. Frost resigned as leader of the Ontario Conservative party, and a few days later as Prime Minister of Ontario, after leading our Province through 12 years of extraordinary growth. The political barometer at the time was steady. The climate was moderate to warm, with occasional jesting references to the "frost bite." We are assured that his action did not in any way reflect upon the reception accorded him by this Club six days earlier, but rather that he was motivated by Thomas Jefferson who said, "If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained?" and by a desire to hand over the reigns to a younger man. Such a desire in itself is somewhat of a distinction within the Party he serves.

I give no credence to the suggestion that he had higher aspirations and hoped that his action would set an example as in the first place there obviously was no vacancy and secondly, the argument that youth should be served is hardly justified when the incumbent is only two days your elder. The preceding meeting in 1961 was addressed by one who, also born in the same year as Mr. Frost, has recently emerged from political retirement into chauffeured mobility -Frederick G. Gardiner. Three leaders at three levels of government, contemporaries at birth and in political service. 1895 was a vintage year, conservatively speaking.

Mr. Frost now serves on the Boards of a great many substantial corporations. He has been awarded honorary degrees by virtually every university in Ontario, is an Honorary Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Toronto.

Believing that education is not as described by Sir Josiah Stamp "the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the ignorant by the incompetent" but rather as the only interest worthy the deep, controlling anxiety of the thoughtful man, he has accepted the responsibility of leadership that the privilege of education involves. He has devoted untold hours of intelligent effort to his role as member and until last autumn Acting Chairman of the Committee on University Affairs, and I am greatly honoured to present the Hon. Leslie M. Frost who will address us on "Higher Education in Ontario 1965."


It is a very great pleasure to be here today with my old chief, George Drew, who in his day had much to do with the initiation of many of the things about which I shall speak. It is also a very great pleasure to be present with my old friend, Ted Jolliffe, who was the leader of the opposition for a number of years and who was leader of the opposition in the beginning of my Premiership. Mr. Jolliffe is essentially constructive. He contributed greatly to our Province. Some three and a half years ago the Empire Club, in asking me to address it, made me an honorary life member. In accepting this great honour, I felt that as I was leaving public life I should never again address this Club. No doubt you felt the same way. As a matter of fact, since that time I have rarely made any public statements or addresses. That I do so now is mainly the fault of your President for asking me and partly my own for my inability to tell him that there are many others more qualified to speak to you on the subject of Ontario's greatest problem and, at the same time, opportunity-education.

It is 21 years ago since, as the member of a new Government, I introduced a budget in part dealing with this subject matter. For some years previously, I had been oppo sition critic in financial matters. I should tell the Honourable Mr. Allan that I used to call the budgets of the then Treasurer dull and unimaginative. That is what I used to say well over 25 years ago. He might tell some of his critics that they are not very imaginative to use criticisms of all that time ago. My budgets in their day were designed for the times we were in. Mr. Allan's budget of yesterday was very much different from my budgets and was designed for 1965 and the years ahead. Through most of the intervening years, the problem has been close to me because of its importance to both Government and people and, of course, because of the times in which we live. Since 1961, at the instance of the Prime Minister, I have been a member of the Committee on University Affairs and it is in that capacity I have to qualify myself on the subject on which I shall speak.

Why the Committee? In these days of massive Provincial Government assistance, the preservation of university independence is of high importance. This is pointed up by the York University campaign which is now launched. $100 million is required for capital expansion. $15 million will come from subscription, $30 million by way of loans which will be paid for by the Government and the balance of $55 million will be in direct Government grants. The purpose of the Committee is to provide an independent contact point between the individual universities and the Government and its departments. The Committee on University Affairs is under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Ontario. Of its eleven members, five are respected members of the academic community. The others have their own varying interests as well as that of education. The eleven are all independent and all have their own views. Sometimes on the Committee, there are many different opinions but then I can say, as with reasonable people, the common sense consensus prevails and reasonable decisions are arrived at. It is from that background I speak to you today. My views here expressed may be different from my colleagues on the Committee. That, I can assure you, is one of the essentials of university independence. My job here today is to give you background and some of my own views which you no doubt will substitute with your own, all of which helps to provide that consensus which in the end is the successful method of democratic government.

Again, education is our greatest problem and our greatest challenge, at the same time, our greatest opportunity. Its challenges are not peculiar to us here in Ontario alone. They, in the main, apply to all countries. Here let me venture to say that one of our greatest contributions and one of our most valuable exports to the undeveloped world is education. Anything else, while desirable and necessary, issuperficial.

The last twenty years has been a period of tremendous change and development in Ontario. In education there has been almost a revolution. We are too close to the event to really appraise what is taking place. These tremendous changes have been brought about by several factors: the great objective and desire of our people from our very beginnings for equality of opportunity in education; technology and the impact of the internal combustion engine which has made possible snow ploughs, school buses and a fine road system upon which they can operate, in fact, the end of the little red schoolhouse; the rapid population growth and a greatly increased birth rate; our emergence on the 6th of August, 1945, into the nuclear age with its requirement that every person must be equipped and have the opportunity of being equipped with the best type of education possible.

The mighty effort of the people of Ontario in education can best be demonstrated by a small bit of statistical evidence. In 1944, we had 650,000 children in our elementary and secondary schools and 13,000 in our universities. Twenty years later in 1964, we had two and a half times as many children in our elementary and secondary schools, or 1,675,000, and almost three and a half times as many university students, namely 46,000. The universal opportunity for secondary education is reflected by the fact that secondary school population has increased in that time well over three-fold. This impact is now reaching our universities. The next decade will see our university population continuing to grow at a more rapid rate than our school population generally.

Comparisons of school and university population tells one side of the story. A look at the costs involved tells another. I shall not use the word "cost." but rather tell you about the investment in human resources, upon the success of which our future will depend. I have referred to our age-old objective of equality of opportunity. Let us look at this in the context of the modern age. Such spending is the soundest and best investment we can make. The appropriate view today is that such investment, providing that each child in our Province shall have the opportunity of being equipped with that education best suited to him, is a fundamental necessity of the days in which we live if our Province and our country are to achieve their manifest destiny. The Ontario budget for the year ending 1944 was about $116 million which provided about $151/2 million for education at all levels, elementary to university. This was about 13% of the total budget. In the budget delivered yesterday, the ordinary appropriations of the Province on ordinary account are about $1,204,000,000. Of this, the total Provincial bill for education is about $508,600,000, or 42%, indeed startling evidence of the revolution I have mentioned. Higher education costs a very great deal of money. The universities received, this current year, from the Province on capital and ordinary account approximately $101 million which is approaching one-quarter of Ontario's total bill for education-for 46,000 students out of a total of over, 1,700,000. What I have referred to is, of course, a tremendous investment in the development of our human resources. I have been asked today to speak on the field of higher education. Our present university population is on target at about 46,000. The next five years, namely by 1970, will witness the doubling of this population to approximately 92,000. In a nutshell, the immediate problem is to provide space and teachers which I am quite sure can be accomplished.

This is what has been done. Twenty years ago, there were three Government assisted universities-Queen's, Toronto and Western. Today we have sixteen Provincially assisted institutions, namely, Brock, Carleton, Guelph, Lakehead, Laurentian, McMaster, Ontario College of Art, Osgoode, Queen's, Toronto, Trent, Waterloo, Western, Windsor, York and Ottawa in science and medicine only. Last September, we were 1,000 places ahead of demand and it is hoped to maintain that margin. There are some very interesting stories concerning the development of these new institutions which time does not permit me to recount. It is sufficient to say that in addition to the creation of the new colleges, the old ones have witnessed changes, which an alumnus returning after a space of years, would think phenomenal indeed. Toronto University, for instance, will now have three campuses which would have been unthought of only a few years ago. For the newer institutions we have the same dramatic effects. York University which came into being only in 1959 will have 7,000 students by 1970. Brock University which accepted its first student last September will have 2,000; Trent University, 1,400. The growth at Waterloo is most dramatic. It started in business in 1957 and this coming September will have an enrolment in excess of 4,000 students. It is upon these well laid foundations that the Province can build in the future.

I have referred to the fact that in this present fiscal year, the capital and ordinary grants for our universities will be a little over $100 million. This great support has been given in a manner consistent with established Ontario policy which really began with Robert Baldwin about 115 years ago, arising out of great controversy. Ontario has developed this policy in the area of higher learning in a very successful manner. Public funds have been directed only to those institutions of higher learning which are non-denominational. On the other hand, our religious colleges have the opportunity and, indeed, are encouraged to affiliate with the strong non-denominational Government assisted universities, with the result that the religious colleges share and participate in the great system of education which is Government assisted. The result is that education is non-denominational. On the other hand, religious colleges can share with the result that in this materialistic age there is a recognition of the spiritual. There are several examples of what I speak of in Ontario today but, of course, the outstanding example is that of the University of Toronto where we have Wycliffe, St. Michael's, Trinity, Victoria and Knox around the central non-denominational institution which all students attend for their interested subjects in common. Among the new colleges, Windsor, Waterloo and Laurentian are inspiring examples.

Laurentian is not only the centre of a federated University, but is bilingual as well. In these days when education at all levels has changed so fundamentally, when we have introduced even at elementary levels languages and vocational training, the costs to the Province are immense. It seems to me what we have done in our universities may provide a really workable and satisfactory system of shared education at both elementary and secondary levels. Diversified education-technical, vocational, business administration-is the order of the day and can be available to all. Money and bricks and mortar, of course, are important but if we have not the teaching resources these can amount to nothing. At the university level we are, naturally, facing competition for university teachers because the university problem is not common to us. In the development which I have outlined, it became evident that Ontario must be prepared to find within its own population and to train the teaching staff required. This program is now successfully under way. Universities are expanding their programs of graduate studies in such a way as to encourage larger numbers of able young scholars to consider careers in teaching. I shall not describe the Ontario Graduate Fellowship Program other than to say that in 1963 there were 800 students. This has now grown to 1,200 and it is estimated it will reach 2,000 next year. The library problem is being substantially assisted by the Ontario New Universities Library Project which is now processing 40,000 volumes which will be the initial libraries of five of our new institutions. This plan has been money-saving and successful.

From what I have said you will recognize that higher education in Ontario is an enormous subject with many facets. It was for this reason the Committee on University Affairs recommended to the Government the establishment of a Department of University Affairs. In my judgment, this is a very big forward step which will enable the intensive consideration of a variety of the implications and development of our sixteen institutions on an economically planned basis without interfering with the independence of the universities. Many new angles will develop in the years ahead depending upon the policies of the people's governments. For instance, Medicare obviously cannot be operated without doctors and medical personnel. The Department is presently, in co-operation with the universities, expanding our medical teaching facilities in accordance with a statement recently made by the Premier. We are living in a world of change. Our institutions of higher learning must be prepared to meet emphasis on any front and the new Department will provide an indispensable agency of consolidation of effort on the part of Government and the universities.

New problems and challenges are bringing about change from traditional methods within the universities themselves. Great success has been achieved by The Univer

sity of Waterloo in its programme involving the academic and, in co-operation with industry, the practical. The principles involved are now being extended to some arts programmes. Television, now being used on a closed circuit basis at McMaster and York Universities, will undoubtedly play a major role in the years immediately ahead. Electronics and technology will undoubtedly increase the scope of the individual teacher. The computer will lighten his teaching work load and leave him freer to study, to teach and to personalize his work. Year-round operation of campus facilities, a matter of differing opinions in academic circles, is to be instituted at the new University of Guelph this coming year. All of these things underscore new methods by which our universities may meet the challenges of the future.

Now, as we look into the future, there is another area which to my mind we must all examine very carefully. Please remember what I have said at the outset about the members of the Committee having their own views. The following are some of my personal views which may not reflect those of others. I should like to refer to the possibilities in higher education that are not related to the university as such. University population is usually thought of as being in the area from 18 to 24 years of age. We have the lesson of the "drop-out" which, in effect, means that a relatively small percentage of pupils who enter secondary school complete Grade 13. For example, in June of 1964 only 18% of those who began Grade 9, five years previously, received their Grade 13 diploma. Ten years before, this was only 11 %. In other words, the academic programmes of other years were not attractive to the larger proportion of pupils available, hence the introduction in Ontario of massive vocational and business administration programs. 312 technical and vocational projects have been opened in Ontario secondary programmes. These courses can all lead to university or higher levels. If we apply this lesson to the group 18 to 24 years, from which is drawn the university population, we are going to find that a very large proportion of the available students are not university material and to make it appear that they are, accordingly, second-class students does injustice to them and harm to our economy. It is simply not true. These young people are strong in potential, but perhaps short on academic inclinations. There should be reasonable and respectable academic jumping-off places into life and employment which do not encompass the full university treatment. Nothing is to be gained on one hand in placing a very large number of young people under disability by making a university degree the only means by which the door of opportunity is opened. It is also a tremendous burden to the taxpayer because enormous expense could be brought about by loading up our universities with pupils who are only there because in the kind of order we have created, they feel they have to. The principle involved is seen, for instance, in the diversification now in effect in our secondary system.


Great efforts which will no doubt be expanded are being made to deal with that important potential which in the past we have referred to as "drop-outs". We have the creation of institutes of technology beginning in 1946 with what is now the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. Vocational centres, which are a variation of the Ryerson school, are now being established. Now we have the interesting studies initiated by the Honourable Mr. Davis, Minister of University Affairs and Minister of Education, regarding the type of institutions which in the United States bears the name "community college". Such institutes, as I understand them, could provide the respectable jumping-off place to which I have referred. Indeed, an intermediate degree or diploma could be granted which should be widely acceptable in business and industry. At the same time, such institutions could offer to groups of all ages the possibility of proceeding on to full university work if their aptitudes so indicate. In other words, our universities with their high costs and with their highlyqualified and expensive staffs would be freer to concentrate on the pupils who have real university aptitude, while the other institutions and colleges would cater to those who have very real potential and ability but in somewhat different lines. Business, industry and civil service should not get into the habit of requiring a university degree simply because it is "the thing to do." Such an attitude can be a disservice to the individual and to our economy and can be the cause of untold expense. Our plan for higher education should be designed to utilize our manpower in the best way instead of blindly trying to press our manpower through a form of education which can only lead to "drop-outs," disappointment and needless cost. The so-called "drop-out" area at secondary and university levels can be our greatest pot of gold human resource-wise if we cultivate its possibilities.

Gentlemen, this is the general outline of a great problem. I thank you for the opportunity of telling you about it. May I just close on this note which I address particularly to the young men here. Our problems, of course, are great but there is nothing that we cannot do. Just keep your sights high and remember that our opportunities are boundless for those who have the vision and the courage to take advantage of them. Above everything else, we have to have confidence in the destiny of our country and confidence in ourselves to do the job. Thank you very much.


Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Mr. E. B. Jolliffe, Q.c., a Director of The Empire Club.

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Higher Education in Ontario 1965

The speaker's background and involvement in education. Education as Canada's greatest problem, greatest challenge, and greatest opportunity. Changes over the last 20 years in Ontario; in education almost a revolution. Some of the changes and the factors that brought about the changes. Statistics. Comparisons of school and university population and a look at the costs involved. Cost as an investment in human resources, upon the success of which our future will depend. The objective of equality of opportunity. Universities in Ontario over the past 20 years: what has been done. Funding the universities. The Committee on University Affairs recommendation to the Government for the establishment of a Department of University Affairs. What this will enable. Change from traditional methods within the universities, with examples from Waterloo, McMaster, and York universities. Some personal views of the speaker of the possibilities in higher education, not related to the university as such. A plan for higher education that "should be designed to utilize our manpower in the best way." Optimism for the future of higher education in Canada.