Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Failure Earns More

At least, if you’re an Olympic level athlete, it does. After a very disappointing Olympic showing this year (which I attribute mostly to the Canadian Olympic Committee for a ridiculous policy of only allowing people that are supposedly the 12th best in the world or better to go), the federal government has decided that they need to invest more money into the system.

So, Minister of State (Sport) Stephen Owen announced (http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/newsroom/news_e.cfm?Action=Display&code=4N0145E) a funding injection of 10.1 million for carded athletes and equipment purchases. This will be split between the Athlete Assistance Program, which will receive 4.6 million, increasing that particular program by a about a third, and 5.5 million which will go to Canada Sports Centres for the purchase of equipment, science, and sports medicine research.

While I agree that our athletes desperately need this type of increase, I find it disconcerting that it takes a poor performance on a world stage to make our government realize this. Incidentally, this also has some relation to our post-secondary system as well, as the Athlete Assistance Program also grants tuition bursaries to carded athletes who train at colleges and universities. The tuition assistance is fairly generous, totalling up to $10,000 per year. While athletes can’t train at Athabasca University, they can certainly undertake their studies there, no matter where they train.

Does this mean we could come to see AU as a school for athletes? It’s a funny thought. Perhaps if we did though, we could then bring added pressure to Mr. Owen to support AU.

Maybe not a great idea, but at least it’s something different from simply raising tuition.

Alberta Leads All Provinces Funding Education

Alberta is very pleased to announce (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200409/170109184E013-375D-4E15-86BA2012E9B5F66B.html) that statistics Canada has shown that for elementary and secondary schools, Alberta is providing more funding per student than any other province. (The territories still spend much more than us, but there are premiums involved for getting teachers and education up north)

When looking at the full report (http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/81-595-MIE/81-595-MIE2004022.pdf), the picture is nearly as rosy as they paint it. We do pay our educators more, their wages have gone up significantly in the last 10 years and what our teachers make is at least comparable with what the average full-time employee makes (though still slightly lower)

What they don’t point out however, is that we’re one of the few provinces that have had increasing enrolments, and that while over the past five years the number of educators we had went up, as of last year they actually went down. A smaller number of educators with a rising enrolment is generally not a good sign.

Also they neglect to say that when you compare operating expenditures in our schools to our Gross Domestic Product (or how much money Alberta makes as a province) we are on the absolute bottom of the list, and that includes the territories, and that this ratio has actually gone down over the past five years. So while the province might be doing better as a whole, it’s not the schools that are seeing their share of the benefit.

Of course, all this applies only to our elementary and secondary schools. I’m waiting for the report about post-secondary. Somehow I doubt there’ll be as much crowing.

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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