Taking Notes: Eye on Education – PSE Funding Lags

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org


Premiers across Canada are meeting this week, intent on asking the federal government for increased post secondary funding. According to Manitoba’s premier Greg Selinger, Ottawa needs to replenish the $2 billion that was removed from the Canada Social Transfer base (which funds post-secondary education and social welfare programs in the provinces). This money was shifted into the Canadian Health Transfer as a result of health care agreements, but since the federal government is forecasting a $8.9 billion surplus this year and in the future, the premiers believe education funding should now be the focus.

Saskatchewan Finance minister Harry Van Mulligen notes that even though the federal government is in better financial shape than most of the provinces, post-secondary contributions have dropped significantly. In spite of spiralling education costs and record enrolment increases, the Canada Social Transfer is set to increase by only 1.6 percent this year, and 1 percent next year – amounts well below inflation.

At least one province, however, is not planning on asking for more education money. Alberta instead intends to push for federal debt-reduction programs. Premier Ralph Klein has promised that post-secondary education will be a priority this year, but seeking federal money to support PSE in Alberta does not appear to be part of the plan.

It is worth noting that Canada’s Open University, although situated in Alberta, is well-attended by students from all provinces across Canada. Seeking increased federal funding to Athabasca University might be seen as a logical move by some.

Beauchesne, E. (2005). Post-secondary education funding tops provinces’ list for Goodale: Projected $8.9B federal surplus allows for increased spending, they say. Edmonton Journal, January 29, 2005, CanWest News Service, Ottawa