A look at news across the nation...

Biosciences Growing in Ottawa

The Government of Ottawa is investing thirty million dollars [SEE: http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/english/news/Ottawa071602.htm] in building space for 1,500 more students at the University of Ottawa. This means that these seats will cost approximately $20,000 per student, actually, the cost is somewhat less as some of that money will be going into the renewal and replacement of laboratory equipment, and some will also be going into building a new research wing for the University.

So how much does it cost a student to get into one of these seats? A little over $12,200 per year [SEE: http://http://www.ottawa.edu/TheCollege/Registrar/TuitionFeesRefunds.html]once the extra fees are taken into consideration. This of course doesn’t take into account little things like living expenses or food, this is just for the teaching. Premier Ernie Eves claims, “we are committed to revitalizing and modernizing Ontario’s colleges and universities to ensure that every willing and qualified student has access to our world-class facilities.” Apparently one of the criteria for a student to be qualified is to have a lot of money available, as Ontario Student finance will give a single student a maximum of $275/week of full time instruction. Let’s assume that the course is an actual full year course – a grand total of $14,300 available in student finance per year. After the tuition a student is left with about $2,100 for living expenses for the entire year.

Let’s say you’ve managed to somehow push yourself through this schooling for three years or so by working part time jobs, begging, and being forced to choose between adequate sleep, adequate food, or adequate study time for each of those years. Perhaps something horrible happens that prevents you from graduating, or perhaps the job market when you finally get out is saturated with foreign researchers that Ontario has been working so hard to attract. In any event if you for some reason are unable to pay back those loans, legislation has been passed so that you can’t even declare bankruptcy on them for ten years following your graduation. On the other hand, those who happen to run a large business that is faltering [SEE: http://www.aircanada.ca/]and requiring government money to stay alive can declare bankruptcy on it should it die completely and at least save their personal assets. Not so if you’re simply trying to get an education.

This is an extra disincentive for lower income students to attempt to enter Ontario’s colleges and universities. But then again it’s beginning to look like the poor aren’t welcome anyway.

Lord Has His Say

Premier Bernard Lord of New Brunswick has written an opinion/editorial letter [SEE: http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/pre/2002e0725pr.htm] that makes a lot of good points. The Premier is writing about the planned export of natural gas to the United States. Premier Lord has no problems with that, and in fact encourages it, provided that New Brunswick and Canada are granted equal access to the offshore natural gas.

In his letter to the National Energy Board he writes “We are questioning why some are arguing that there is insufficient supply to serve Maritime needs, while at the same time an application has been filed with the NEB to double the capacity of the existing pipeline infrastructure to take gas to the U.S.” This course of action only makes sense if you are viewing it from a governmental accounting perspective where the goal is to increase the value of exports.

Premier Lord makes very clear that he is not arguing for subsidized access to the gas, merely to the same type of access that the United States now enjoys, and I agree with him in this. If Canada and Canadians are willing to pay the same amount for the gas as the United States is, it makes little sense to export the gas and require Canadians to have to find more costly alternatives – possibly imported from the United States. It seems too often that our government accountants and regulators forget that the first duty of Canadian regulation is to serve Canadian interests.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.