Positive Changes in New Brunswick
The Student Finance System in New Brunswick is seeing some positive changes (http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/edu/2005e0620ed.htm). Starting August 1, New Brunswick will have reduced the amount that parents are expected to contribute, increased the amount of funding a student can receive per week, and allowed computer-related costs to be considered as part of the assessment for needs.
All of these changes will help New Brunswick students, and specifically the non-traditional AU students, receive adequate levels of funding. AU students already know that having a computer is basically a necessity. For post-secondary students from other institutions, a computer is nearly as important. It’s nice to see one provincial government finally acknowledging this.
The increase in weekly living allowance means that a single student can look forward to living on $520/month, which is $30 more than they would receive on social assistance. It seems strange to me, though, that the government will pay you nearly as much not to be working as it will if you’re struggling to improve yourself and have a better opportunity to be working later. If we really want to support education, doesn’t it make more sense to at least give people the same quality of living, for free (not as a loan), as they’d receive if they were not working? Why is it that somebody actively working toward becoming more employable at a higher rate (and hence paying higher taxes to the government) has repay their living allowance (plus tuition) and someone who isn’t working receives living allowance and remains debt-free?
I’m not saying we should make social assistance into a loan program. I understand people needing a hand up once in a while, I’ve been there myself. But, if the provincial governments really want to support education, why not deduct what has been determined is a basic cost of living from the total debt the student has to pay back. If the student succeeds in their education, the government will very likely make that money back through taxes anyway.
Premiers go to a Meeting on Crystal Meth
Okay, so this story probably isn’t that relevant to most AU students, but I just loved the headline.
The Western Premier’s Meeting is June 10th, and Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert has added a discussion (http://www.gov.sk.ca/newsrel/releases/2005/05/26-464.html) on Crystal Meth to the agenda. Perhaps most interesting is that this drug has reached such a level in public consciousness as to warrant inclusion in the Western Premiers’ Meeting. The goal is to develop a set of best practices aimed at prevention and treatment for users of the drug, while lobbying the federal government to increase penalties for crystal meth trafficking to be comparable to those for heroin and cocaine.
Let’s hope they concentrate on the prevention and treatment options, since those stand the better chance of having a noticeable effect on the problem. Increased sentences simply mean more taxes devoted to keeping individual drug dealers in prison for longer.
Big Bucks for Post-Graduate Research
The Ontario Provincial Government is announcing (http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2005/05/26/c3729.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html) a 1.8 billion dollar fund called the Ontario Research Fund that will be devoted to increasing research and the commercialization of research throughout Ontario. This money will be put into the fund over four years. The government is also taking steps to ensure the fund gets used (as if that would be a problem) by enabling over 14,000 more Ontarians to pursue graduate and post-graduate studies by the year 2009-2010.
Now what we need to see is something similar for undergraduate research opportunities, as these can be crucial to being accepted into graduate studies.