Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Private Schooling – Public Funding

The Ontario government is celebrating (http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2003/06/25/c7408.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html) how it has managed to simultaneously rob its public education system and at the same time please many parents. A recent press release reminds Ontarians about how their provincial government passed legislation that allows parents to receive a tax-credit based on the tuition they pay to send their students to a private school.

As the years go by, the amount of the tuition eligible as a tax-credit will increase up to 50%. Supposedly this is done to reflect how parents removing their children from the public education system are taking fewer of the public education system’s resources. Yet this credit cannot be applied for by people with no children at all – even though they obviously place a smaller burden yet on the public education system.

At the same time, this still does little for those parents who still cannot afford the private schools in the first place, nor does it do anything for those parents who have “troubled” kids that many private schools simply will not accept. No, in those cases, the parents simply have to live with the fact that families that are better off do not have to provide the same level of support to the children of Ontario as everybody else.

As a directed tax cut, this is one of the worst I’ve seen, especially among those that the government pats itself on the back for. If couples without children still have to pay the full tax, why should parents who are rich enough to be able to send their children to private school in the first place get a tax break?

Under this type of logic, I suppose the next thing we can expect is a break in provincial income taxes for those people who can fly down to the U.S. for operations. It seems somebody in the Ontario Provincial Government has forgotten the idea behind the word “public” in public education.

A far better tax cut is the one given to the seniors (http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2003/06/25/c7318.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html). This cut basically eliminates the educational portion of property tax for all senior citizens in Ontario. While I am not in favour of any tax-cuts that pull money away from our education system as they are all short-sighted, at least this one is applied fairly and not simply to those who happen to be able to afford an extra expense.

Private Funding – Public Schooling

The Ontario provincial government is also pleased to announce (http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2003/06/24/c6905.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html) a 400 million dollar investment into the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund (OSOTF). This came as a surprise when I first read it, because the idea of the Ontario Government actually working to make post-secondary cheaper for students seems contrary to all the evidence we’ve seen so far.

The OSOTF is a set of awards and bursaries for students who are on Ontario’s student loan programs. It’s a worthy idea, those who are suffering financial need can apply for various OSOTF sponsored awards and perhaps reduce the amount of their loans. So this 400 million dollar investment will really be a great boon to many students in Ontario.

It is interesting however to note that the government is actually the last contributor to the fund. The government’s contribution is a dollar for dollar match of the amount of funds donated by the private sector, with the donations being raised by the Universities.

So really, the congratulations for this funding must go the Universities themselves, and not to the provincial government.

Still, congratulations are in order. A total of 800 million being delivered to needy Ontario post-secondary students over the next decade will go far into encouraging many people to go forward with their post-secondary educations, something that benefits Ontario and all of us in the long term.

Disaster Relief for Cattle Farmers : Again

The Alberta Provincial government is announcing (http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=514) that 100 million dollars is being committed to a national program to help cattle producers last through the crisis brought on by a single case of Mad Cow disease. Of course, it was just last year that more money was being poured into the industry to help it survive the record droughts that had made cattle feed prices so expensive.

Since that initial case, the news has seemed rather good. No other cases have been found, and all the farms have been released from quarantine. This supposed good news has its dark side of course – with no other cattle seeming to have it, the question of where it came from in the first place still remains.

Which is more disturbing, the amount of economic damage that this single case caused, or the idea that – with no cause determined – it could happen again tomorrow?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Instead of using the money to prop up cattle industries, maybe we should start using money like that to take a look into alternatives to beef.

I don’t know what those alternatives would be but I don’t have $100 million dollars to help me look into the matter, either.

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.

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