The Canada We Want – The Undergraduates We Don’t
Every new session of parliament begins with a Speech from the Throne that our government uses to make a set of promises about what they hope to do while in office. In this session’s speech, titled The Canada We Want, we see that the government has exactly nothing to promise for helping undergraduate students (see: http://www.sft-ddt.gc.ca/vnav/06_1_e.htm). Graduate student research receives some extra grant money, some support for the indirect costs of research and for the costs of commercialising research is also in there, as well as money for small and medium sized companies to do research and money to develop better workplace training programs and youth and aboriginal employment programs.
But for those of us who are trying to get to the graduate level? Nothing. The only mention is that it has invested in access to university. This so-called investment has resulted in the government’s portion of university revenues declining 14% over the past 10 years (see: http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/020916/d020916b.htm), while student fees now account for 7% more than they did the same 10 years ago. This is an investment?
It seems that in the government’s rush to make Canada as attractive to researchers as possible, they have forgotten where researchers come from. Oddly, Athabasca University students are in a better position to affect the federal government than the students of any other University. Because we are all over Canada we can have an effect on many ridings across the country. Because we are generally older and more established, we tend to get more respect from our representatives when we write to them.
But getting this attention means we need to take action ourselves. Write your MP (see: http://www.gc.ca/directories/direct_e.html) and let them know that as the next generation of researchers, forgetting us is simply shortsighted.
Manitoba Continues to Buck the Trend
The provincial government of Manitoba has announced 115 grants given out to various students who will be studying medicine (see: http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2002/10/2002-10-01-01.html), in return for a promise that those students will set up their practice in areas where Manitoba needs doctors the most. This strikes me as a far better strategy than giving money to simply increase the pay that researchers and doctors will receive. Manitoba’s strategy guarantees them researchers at a competitive price, and is not subject to having to compete with all the other provinces and the United States as to who can pay researchers the most.
Given the size of the US economy, trying to compete in that arena is almost guaranteed to be a loss in the long run. By paying for the training, and then requiring service for a limited time thereafter, Manitoba is not only benefiting themselves, but the rest of us as well since they are enabling more students to become doctors.
Canada Right over Softwood Lumber – Again
The World Trade Organization has once again ruled that the US was wrong in its continuing battle to kill our softwood lumber industry. This ruling has stated that the preliminary subsidy determination was flawed, which naturally will reflect on the final ruling.
What this means in the long run is that if the WTO rules that Canada was never in the wrong, the US Customs will have to pay back all of the duties that were collected. Of course, under the Byrd Amendment in the United States, these duties are allowed to be given directly to the companies who felt they were being disadvantaged by the Canadian imports. Even if those companies do wind up having to return the funds, they’ve still received the competitive benefit of being able to use them in the interim. The interest alone on the significant amount of money these duties took from our lumber industry would be enough to give an unfair competitive boost to those companies.
And once a Canadian company has shut down because the duties made in not profitable to operate, starting it up again will cost significantly more than was originally taken. Then again, some would argue that this was the US Lumber industry’s intention all along.
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.