Fed Watch!

Saskatchewan Taking Action

Like most provinces, Saskatchewan is dealing with its own problems in the medical department. One of the major problems is staffing. Alberta’s answer is to concentrate on offering better and better incentive plans – in effect, competing harder for the scarce resources. Saskatchewan is taking a different approach, though. Rather than simply try and compete for the scarce supply of health professionals, Saskatchewan is attempting to increase the supply by offering bursaries (http://www.gov.sk.ca/newsrel/2002/01/17-028.html) worth $7,000.00 to students taking medical related programs and who will agree to practice in rural Saskatchewan for a year once they graduate. This also applies to nurses, so if you don’t mind the thought of small towns and could use the help paying your way through your schooling, it might be worth a look.

Paul Martin has no Explanation

It appears (http://pm.gc.ca/default.asp?Language=E&page=newsroom&sub=factsheets&doc=dollar.20020122_e.htm)that our Finance Minister, Paul Martin, really has no answer to why the Canadian dollar is so low. He’s looking at his books and as far as he can see, all the conditions are right – taxes dropping, debt dropping, low inflation, and a balanced budget – so why the loonie isn’t soaring to great heights seems to be a mistake on the part of the currency traders.

Perhaps he’s forgetting that Canada is an export driven market, and what’s more, the bulk of our exports are raw materials and to one country. This means that because the United States is suffering, we’re eventually going to wind up suffering too. Would you invest in a business where the main customer was having financial troubles? The other problem is that currency trading has little relation to reality. When a person is trading currency to make their living, there is nothing really present for them to back their money up on. The value of a currency, when it comes down to it, is really only based on how the currency traders feel. Of course when difficult times come, most people want to make sure that they have access to their money. This means they have to pull it out of the other currencies and put it in their own.

So how do we combat this? By developing our internal markets. Stop exporting raw materials and instead sell them to other Canadian companies that export finished products. However, to do that we need the Canadian companies – and the best way to make entrepreneurial Canadians is to educate them as much as we possibly can. Of course, there is no Minister of Education, just a Minister of Human Resources Development, Jane Stewart – responsible for millions of dollars being literally lost in the system. Even without that loss though, Human Resources Development is more concerned with employment than education. With no federal strategy for education, is it any wonder that students are seeing continual tuition hikes and little in corresponding benefits?

Deregulation Dismissed

It was a narrow thing, but the Ontario Government may have curtailed tuitions rising enormously over the next few years. Ontario’s Universities Minister, Dianne Cunningham has rejected an application from Queen’s University for the ability to decide it’s own fees.

Currently Universities in Ontario are restricted to a two percent cap in tuition fee increases per year. This limit was recently taken off for the graduate studies programs in medicine, law, engineering and business. The result? A fee increase of almost 60% for those programs.

Other Universities in Ontario had also indicated that they would like to be de-regulated as well, but only Queens had applied. Fortunately, this refusal may mean that they (and other Universities across Canada) do not pursue this.