Fed Watch!

Costs of Kyoto

The Alberta Government has released a study (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200202/11952.html) showing that the cost of Kyoto could be as high as $40 billion dollars, with the Alberta economy suffering as much as 5.5 billion dollars per year. Reading through the press release though, it quickly becomes apparent that this damage also includes estimates of what the damage to growth would be. Given the previous success of our governments and economists to predict the trends (such as the prediction that the price of oil would stay high over this budgetary period, and that elimination of the debt might be possible by 2005) relying on economic forecasts to give a valuation of damage seems suspect at best.

Most interesting though was the quote by Alberta’s Environment Minister Lorne Taylor where he stated, “we are not saying that this will definitely be the impact on the economy – what we are saying is can we afford to take the risk that it could be?” Perhaps someone should explain to Mr. Taylor that his concern is supposed to primarily be the environment, not the economy. I would suggest that if Mr. Taylor replaced the word economy with environment in that statement, he would be doing much more toward his post as environmental minister, especially when you consider that the risks of environmental damage are not confined to a simple slow down in growth and job loss but also include death, disease, and famine.

Industry Funds Humanities

In an unusual twist from the norm, the Canadian Minister of Industry, Allan Rock, has announced funding (http://www.ic.gc.ca/cmb/welcomeic.nsf/cdd9dc973c4bf6bc852564ca006418a0/85256a220056c2a485256b66005ee1ef!OpenDocument) in the amount of $125 million dollars to support advanced studies in the humanities. These funds will be available to doctoral and post-doctoral students to assist them with tuition, living fees, and also to mentors to assist them in their studies. This funding is part of the Canadian Innovation Strategy – a federal plan designed to make Canada the leader in innovation and creation of new strategies.

Of course, what is most unusual about this is that the funding is to be directed toward the humanities, an area where universities are finding it more difficult to locate funding for the undergraduate programs as shown in this study (http://www.ualberta.ca/~cafa/mlafun.html) (sections 3.6, 3.9, and 3.7) done by the University of Alberta. While this will no doubt provide some relief to this problem as it creates more professors for these types of courses, the root problem of a lack of funding at the undergraduate level will remain. This lack of funding is not addressed in the Canadian Innovation Strategy. The concern is with encouraging top researchers trained in Canada to stay in Canada, or if they were not trained in Canada, to move here.

We need to convince our government that the best way to get excellent graduates to research in Canada is to make sure that undergraduates have the opportunity and funding to become truly excellent.

New Brunswick Pays for Refresher Courses

In order to help combat the shortage of health professionals in the province, the government of New Brunswick has (http://www.gov.nb.ca/cnb/news/hw/2002e0151hw.htm) established a program that will allow registered nurses who have been out of the workforce for some time to take a refresher course with their tuition paid for by the government. This payment is made on the condition that the person work in a New Brunswick hospital or licensed nursing home for at least one year following the completion of their course.

Ontario, on the other hand, has established a fund (http://www.newswire.ca/government/ontario/english/releases/February2002/13/c1474.html) of $800,000 devoted to funding post-graduate training positions for people who completed their training outside the province and now want to move to it. In essence, New Brunswick wants to benefit their own people while solving a problem, Ontario simply wants to import people to solve the problem, and that way avoid having to deal with the under-funding of their own post-secondary system.

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