Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Federal Budget – Business As Usual

For those who follow this kind of thing, there are already a lot of comments out there about what the new federal budget does for post-secondary education, so I’ll be brief and give just a quick list (

On the good side, students born after 2003 will get a small education bond of what will work out to be a couple of courses worth of tuition by the time they hit college.

The government is also increasing the amount of student loans available per week, increasing the debt reduction available to those who need it, and increasing the income threshold under which students qualify for income relief.

On the mediocre side, they are also enhancing the Canada Education Savings Program, the one that rewards families for putting money away for education. This program matches parents’ savings, hoping that Statistics Canada is wrong when they say people who don’t save for their children’s education generally don’t enough money to do so. Perhaps they think that what Statistics Canada means is that people who don’t save for their children’s education simply don’t care about it.

On the bad side, no relief for tuition. No acknowledgement of the coming professor shortage. No tying student loan limits to the CPI. No realization that student debt is a significant deterrence to post-secondary education. No adjustment for heavy capital expenditures that students have to make these days (like computers), and in short, no new ideas.

Then again, did anybody really expect any from Paul Martin et al?

Provincial Budget – Business As Usual

Under all the hoopla surrounding the federal budget, the provincial government of Alberta also released its own 2004 Budget ( Its descriptions of what it is going to do are much more nebulous, but we’ll try to stick with the same format.

On the good side, post-secondary funding will see an increase in the base operating grants of 4% this year, actually beating inflation this time. Scholarships, bursaries, and grants will increase by almost 11%

On the mediocre side, the Alberta Centennial Education Savings Plan is going ahead full force. It is a project expected to cost over 20 million a year, that only benefits parents of children who are born next year, and does nothing for those of us currently using the system.

On the bad side, everything bad in the federal budget, plus an increase of 4.4 million to private schools for total funding of 121 million dollars. Will somebody please tell me why public funds are going to support private schools? The last time I looked, private was not a synonym for public.

I have nothing against parents who want to send their children to private schools for a better education, or a more specialized learning focus, but I do not see why the public at large should have any responsibility for their decision, especially when those resources could be used to better fund the public systems.

Newfoundland Passes the Buck.. err.. Bill.. for Student Loans

The Provincial Government of Newfoundland has just announced that student loans will now be handled through an arms-length agency called the “Student Loan Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador”.

This new corporation “will become the sole owner, dispenser, and collector of all provincial student loans.” For those of us on Student Loans who have the pleasure of dealing with CIBC’s National Student Loan Centre and Edulinx in Alberta, we’re all well aware of just what that means.

As a corporation, their end goal is to establish profits, or at least minimize losses. Since the amount of money that they get and dispense is legislated, this leaves only one area where they can make adjustments – the level of service.

So for those of you in Newfoundland, my sympathies.

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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