Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Health Symposium Available

Those in one of the various health-related programs at AU might want to take a look at the Alberta sponsored Health Symposium (http://www.health.gov.ab.ca/symposium/) site. The Health Symposium is going on from May 3rd to May 5th, 2005, with the speakers present being streamed online live through that site. If, however, you can’t make it during the live web-casts, the Alberta government has promised that the web-casts will be available as archives within two days of the symposium.

With researchers from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, this symposium is an opportunity to hear some of the brightest minds around on the subject of health. It’s certainly something that wouldn’t hurt any health-related research projects that you might be involved in.

For those of us not in a health program, the symposium might still be worth checking out, if only to get a glimpse at what may eventually work its way into Alberta’s Health Care system.

Post-Secondary More Important For Men

Statistics Canada has recently released a report (http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/81-004-XIE/2005001/earn.htm) that shows the increase in wages over the past several years for both men and women. Interestingly, the report shows that women have seen their wages increase both with and without a post-secondary education. But for men things are different. Men with a post-secondary education have seen their wages remain, on average, flat with previous years, while those with only a high school education have actually received a cut of about 20% in what they earn on average.

The report concludes that part of the reason for this may simply be that as more women are accepted into the labor force, the growing supply of labor allows employers to lower the price, but since fewer women were employed before, this lowering does not affect them as much. Perhaps in our male dominated politics, a report like this might spur politicians on to create more opportunities for everybody to attain a post-secondary education. I can always hope.

Nova Scotia Budget Announced

The Province of Nova Scotia has released (http://www.gov.ns.ca/finance/budget05/budget_address.asp) its annual budget in which they guarantee that post-secondary tuition in the province will not rise by more than 3.9%. At the same time, they’ve also put to rest any notion that they’ll be imposing a tuition freeze in the near future, pointing to the disastrous results that followed the tuition freeze in British Columbia when tuitions doubled shortly after the freeze was taken off.

Of course, they neglect to mention that part of the reason for that was that the BC universities weren’t receiving the funding increases necessary to handle the cost pressures that they came under during the freeze. Still, a cap at 3.9% is better than Alberta’s current system which has no cap at all until Alberta students are directly paying for almost a full third of the operating costs of a university.

Federal Money for Distance Education

The Federal government is giving over half a million dollars (http://www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/e/media/press/press.shtml?3252) toward the development of distance education programs – but not to Athabasca University. Instead, the money will be going to the New Brunswick Community College to develop four new courses for teaching students French.

Athabasca University, of course, already has an established French program, so it seems to me that the government could have gotten away with giving much less money to Athabasca University and be able to expect the same or better results in a quicker time frame. The question then becomes, why didn’t they?

Is it simply stupidity on part of the federal government? Is it because this is really just a cleverly disguised hand-out shortly before a by-election in Atlantic Canada? Is it because Athabasca University is simply not very effective at making itself known in Ottawa, despite billing itself as “Canada’s Open University?” Most likely it’s some combination of all of these.

This is where it becomes important to write letters to your Federal representatives, and also to the administration of Athabasca University. Let them know how you feel about their bypassing a well-functioning program for distance education to create a duplicate program elsewhere.

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