Report: Planning and Budget Committee - February 22, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting

Monday, February 22, 2021

To the Academic Board, 
University of Toronto 

Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on Monday, February 22, 2021, at 3:10 p.m. with the following members present: 

Jan K. Mahrt-Smith (Chair),  Mark Lautens (Vice Chair),  Brian Lawson, (Vice-Chair, Governing Council), Cheryl Regehr (Vice-President and Provost),  Scott  Mabury (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships),  Trevor Rodgers (Assistant Vice-President, Planning & Budget),  Adanna Y. Chigbo , Ettore V. Damiano ,  Lisa R. Dolovich ,  Markus D. Dubber ,  Sarosh Jamal ,  Ernest W. N.Lam ,  Joanne McNamara ,  Nicole  Mideo ,  Amy Mullin ,   Fabian Parsch , Marium Nur Vahed, Grace Ann Westcott ,  Melanie A. Woodin 
Adalsteinn (Steini) I. D. Brown, Carol C. Chin, Matt Ratto

Christine E. Burke (Assistant Vice-President, University Planning), Saher Fazilat (Chief Administrative Officer, UTM),

Tracey Gameiro, Secretary 
Grant Allen (Professor and Chair, Department of Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering)
Elizabeth Cragg (Director, Office of the Vice-President University Operations)
Tyler Riches, Vice-President, Public & University Affairs, UTSU

Archana Sridhar (Assistant Provost, Office of the Vice-President and Provost)
Rachel Tennant (Special Projects Officer, Office of the President)
Christopher Yip (Professor and Dean, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering)


Pursuant to section 33(i) of By-Law Number 2, 
Item 10 was considered in camera. 


  1. Chair’s Remarks

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting. He encouraged members to participate actively in the discussion and thanked those individuals who also attended the Budget Information Session on February 8, 2020. The Chair noted that one speaking request had been received to speak to item 3 on the Agenda, the Budget Report 2021-2022 and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26. That request, from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (“UTSU”), had been granted.  
  2. Assessors’ Reports 

    There were no reports from the assessors.
  3. Budget Report, 2021-2022, and the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26

    The Provost, Professor Cheryl Regehr, together with Professor Scott Mabury, (Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships)  and Mr. Trevor Rodgers, (Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget), gave a comprehensive presentation addressing the Budget Report for 2021-22, the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26, and the Enrolment Report. 

    As part of her introductory remarks, the Provost noted that she had not provided a separate update on COVID as part of her Assessor’s Report, as its impacts were reflected in the Budget report for this particular year.   

    It was reported that while the University was in positive financial shape overall despite the significant uncertainty created by the pandemic, resources continued to be directed toward addressing the ongoing challenges as a result of COVID-19.  

    Highlights of the budget and enrolment presentation included: 
  • The total budgeted operating revenue for 2021-22 of $3.12 billion was 4.4% higher than the 2020-21 budget. 
  • Enrolment remained robust, with enrolment-related revenues projected to increase.
  • The shift in the balance of funding between tuition and provincial operating grants continued to shift, with just 21% of the operating budget now supported by the Provincial government, down from 22% last year.
  • Spending was increased on financial aid, health and safety measures, and online teaching tools.
  • Ancillary services suffered significant adverse budgetary consequences as a result of the reduction in on-campus activity, which would likely require deficit spending over the next several years.
  • Divisional plans included revenue growth of 4.4% over last year.
  • The outer years of the plan assumed a significantly slower rate of revenue growth.
  • Bill 124 would restrict compensation increases for a 3 year period, excluding increases related to PTR, merit, and union grid steps. 
  • Divisions had been asked to develop budgets assuming a freeze of domestic tuition for one additional year (2021-22) pending the announcement of a new Provincial tuition fee framework.
  • The proportion of the University’s budget supported by the Provincial government was significantly less than peer institutions in the U15 group of Canadian research universities. 
  • The University also received the lowest amount of per-student government funding among U15 peers. 
  • The government had confirmed that no performance-based funding would be at risk until at least 2022-23.
  • The University continued its commitment to providing financial aid, spending significantly more than required by the Province’s student access guarantee, and 58% more in financial aid per student than the average of other Ontario universities.  
  • The student aid budget for 2021-22 would increase to $291 million.
  • Direct entry undergraduate divisions had committed to a significant investment in merit-based scholarships for international students. 
  • The focus of the operating budget continued to be on investments related to the student experience, including: expanded mental health services, increased opportunities for experiential, work-integrated learning, and research experiences, improvements to both physical and IT infrastructure, and improving service delivery in the areas of academic advising and student success. 
  • Five priority areas had been identified for the University Fund Allocation: Inclusive Excellence, Enriching Learning, Investing in Divisional Priorities, Advancing University Priorities, and Research Support. 
  • A new infrastructure reserve fund had been established to provide more transparency regarding funds set aside for future major capital projects.
  • At the end of 2020, divisions had set aside $429 million for major capital projects in the reserve fund. 

    Mr. Tyler Riches, Vice-President, Public & University Affairs, UTSU, was then invited by the Chair to address the Committee.  Mr. Riches provided an overview of student concerns regarding the budget including:
  • a request that tuition fees for computer science, bioinformatics, and data science programs be lowered to that of other programs in the Faculty of Arts and Science; 
  • a recommendation that international and domestic tuition fees be frozen for the 2021-2022 academic year, regardless of the provincial framework, in recognition of the financial hardships experienced by students as a result of COVID-19;  
  • concerns that online courses had not provided the same learning experience as in-person instruction while tuition levels remained unchanged; 
  • perceived barriers for student input into the budgetary process; and 
  • a request for increased funding for mental health services.

    The Chair thanked Mr. Riches for his comments.  


    As part of the discussion, the assessors noted the following in response to members’ questions and comments:
  • While a small part of divisional operating reserves resided in central accounts, the vast majority remained with the academic divisions and were a significant part of long range planning discussions and the Academic Budget Review process with the divisions.
  • Ontario institutions received the lowest amount of per-student government funding compared with institutions in other provinces. Within Ontario, Provincial funding per student was consistent for similar programs across institutions, but differences in the mix of programs resulted in different average grant amounts received by individual Ontario universities. 
  • The University of Toronto was more graduate intensive which resulted in higher average per student funding compared to other Ontario universities, but per student funding remained significantly lower as compared to its U15 peers in other Provinces.  
  • While direct entry Divisions had earmarked 6% of international tuition revenue for international scholarships, this was not an imposed cap. Where there was an opportunity to put greater amounts aside for scholarships for international students, divisions had done so. 
  • The process of planning for Faculty budgets begins many months before they are consolidated into the University budget and brought to governance for review. As such, while there might not be an opportunity to provide program-level budgetary feedback for the coming year, there would be opportunities for student consultation in the process for future years.  To that end, Professor Melanie Woodin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science had added two meetings with students to the budget review process going forward. 
  • Mental health supports and resources remained a high priority, with continued increase in investments, and further work with the advancement office to engage more donors in this area.
  • Student leaders, including representatives of the Arts and Science Students’ Union, Computer Science Students’ Union, and Bioinformatics & Computational Biology Students’ Union, had met with the Assistant Vice-President, Planning and Budget, Mr. Trevor Rodgers, as well as with Mr. Horatio Bot, the Executive Director, Budget, Planning & Finance at the Faculty of Arts and Science to discuss the University’s tuition policy and planning processes.   

    On motion duly moved, seconded and carried


    THAT the Budget Report 2021-22 be approved, and

    THAT the Long Range Budget Guidelines 2021-22 to 2025-26 be approved in principle.
  1. Enrolment Report, 2020--21

    The Enrolment Report, 2020-21, was provided to members with the Budget Report presentation.
  2. Capital Project: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the Walberg Sustainability Lab  (“Sustainability Lab”) – Project Scope and Sources of Funding

    Following introductory remarks by Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, the Committee received a presentation from Ms. Christine Burke, Assistant Vice-President, University Planning, who provided the following highlights of the Sustainability Lab:
  • the Sustainability Lab would be a one-story addition to The Wallberg Building and would contain an open wet lab, an open graduate student research office and an exterior rooftop lab, to facilitate testing and integration of technologies in real climate conditions;  
  • the Sustainability Lab would house various sustainable platforms under one roof and help position the University of Toronto as a leader in innovative sustainable solutions and technologies; 
  • the Sustainability Lab would provide opportunities for FASE to enrich the graduate student experience through collaboration and innovation of climate change technologies;  
  • the Sustainability Lab would feature research on sustainability in support of the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Strategic Plan; 
  • the anticipated construction start date was May 2021, with occupancy targeted for August 2022.  

    Professors Christopher Yip (Dean) and Grant Allen (Professor and Chair, Department of Engineering & Applied Chemistry),  FASE,  joined the presentation, sharing their excitement over the opportunities presented by the open collaborative space of the Sustainability Lab, and adding that sustainability was an integral part of the vision statement for the Department of Engineering & Applied Chemistry. 

    In response to a member’s question regarding the net zero readiness of the project, Professor Mabury explained that the Sustainability Lab would produce no additional carbon emissions and would connect to the central geothermal project currently underway at King’s College Circle.  Professor Allen explained that while security protocols would need to be maintained to protect the integrity of lab work, the hope was that the space would invite collaborations from other programs outside engineering. 


    THAT the Report of the Project Planning Committee for the University of Toronto Wallberg Building ‘Sustainability Lab’, dated January 14, 2021, be approved in principle; and, 

    THAT the project totaling 437 net assignable square metres (nasm) (667 gross square metres (gsm)), be approved in principle, to be funded by Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering Divisional Reserves and Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry Departmental Reserves.
  1. Report of the Previous Meeting: Report Number 196 – January 13, 2021

    Report Number 196 of January 13, 2021 was approved.
  2. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting. 
  3. Date of the Next Meeting – Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 3:10 – 5:10 p.m.

    The Chair reminded members that the next meeting would be held on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 3:10 p.m. 
  4. Other Business

    There were no items of other business. 


  1. Capital Project: Report of the Project Planning Committee for the Walberg Sustainability Lab  - Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding 


    THAT the recommendation by Professor Scott Mabury, Vice-President, Operations and Real Estate Partnerships, regarding the Total Project Cost and Sources of Funding for the Walberg Sustainability Law as outlined in the memorandum dated February 22, 2021, be approved in principle. 

    The Committee returned to Open Session. 

    The Chair thanked members for their attendance and participation in the Committee meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 4:33 p.m.

February 26, 2021