Winter E229

No post-secondary surprises in NDP budget

By Fabian Mayer, October 27 2015 —

There were few post-secondary changes or announcements in the provincial budget released Oct. 27.

The NDP government re-announced the two-year tuition freeze and its restoration of post-secondary funding. Both policies were first revealed in the government’s interim supply bill this summer.

Romy Garrido is the University of Calgary Students’ Union vice-president external and chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), a provincial lobby group. Garrido was in Edmonton for budget day and said she was happy with the results.

“We’re glad to see that there’s still stable funding for our institutions over the next few years,” Garrido said. “We’re seeing that they’re basically keeping their promises, which is great.”

The government will provide Alberta’s post-secondary institutions with $5.7 billion in funding in 2015–16, with that number increasing to $5.9 billion in 2016–17. U of C
president Elizabeth Cannon said she was happy to see the restored funding.

“That’s very important to us to be able to maintain not only the quality of our programs, but also access for students,” Cannon said.

The NDP government promised a review of the funding model for post-secondary institutions. Cannon said the U of C hopes to be part of that conversation.

“We’ll certainly be very engaged with the government to make sure that we’re clear on what kind of post-secondary system we want to create, how much it’s going to cost and who’s going to pay,” Cannon said.

The review will also look at how tuition is regulated in Alberta. According to Garrido, the ministry of advanced education has asked CAUS to submit recommendations by the end of November.

“It’s a big question and there’s a lot of potential in it and a lot of opportunity to be able to set the future of post-secondary and the future of what students will have to pay to get a degree,” Garrido said.

The budget also included $10 million to support mental heath services in the province, but none of the money was specifically allocated to post-secondary institutions.

A program that provided $3 million in mental health funding to Alberta’s three biggest universities expires in June.

“That is really unfortunate. We’re really hoping to see that renewed, especially since the expiry date is coming up,” Garrido said.

She remains hopeful that the funding will be renewed.

“The March budget is where we’re going to be focusing on the most and hoping to see things about mental health especially,” Garrido said.

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