Last weeks revelation that the University of Calgary Budget Committee is proposing five per cent cuts from the university's total operating budget for each of the next four years should hardly come as a surprise. Over the past fifteen years, cuts have been an annual or biannual reality at this university and have mirrored the declining trend in provincial funding to post-secondary education.
The Klein government and the spokespeople at the Alberta Learning Ministry insist until they're blue in the face that contributions to Alberta's post-secondary institutions have increased steadily since 1996, and this is true--to the tune of 58 per cent. But it is also ignoring the financial realities of the current situation. It is not enough to claim that because government grants have increased, the government has done its part. Costs have grown at a significantly higher rate than the paltry three to four per cent extra the government doles out each year to cover inflation. This is not acceptable in Canada's richest province.
King Ralph and his cronies are bragging to all who will listen that they have successfully eliminated Alberta's debt. They think that sending the vague and unscientific "It's your Future" survey to every household will con the voting public into believing that they are accountable to the wants of Albertans. Unfortunately, they are probably right. Although the undefined category "education" was ranked as Albertans' second priority in the survey results, the government has yet to announce any new and consistent core funding to post-secondary. This November, voters would do well to remember that the elimination of Alberta's debt was done partly on the backs of students--and Ralph & Co. have yet to give anything back.