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Mount Royal Granting Nursing Degrees

Athabasca University has successfully helped another college to begin delivering full degree programs. This week, the Honourable Doug Horner, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology for Alberta, announced that Mount Royal College has been granted the ability to award four year nursing degrees (1). Previously, Mount Royal did not have sufficient nursing courses approved by the Alberta Campus Quality Council, so students would typically finish off their program through Athabasca University.

Some worry about this move reducing the number of students AU will have, but it is expected that AU will be able to make up the difference, for the time being, in the conversion programs that enable RNs and LPNs attain their full four year degrees, allowing AU to concentrate on its core model of delivering top quality courses by distance.

That’s not to say that this announcement won’t cause some problems. As the deadline for enrolment for this program is in April, there is a concern that some students who have been enjoying the Athabasca model, which allows for part-time and distance study, may be left out in the cold if they are employed and unable to commit to a full-time in-class program. Athabasca University has dealt with this to some degree by ensuring that those who are in the AU program will be allowed to complete it. Unfortunately, for those students who may have been planning to enrol this year, it seems their time has run out.

The Alberta government is providing ten million dollars to Mount Royal College as a one-time payment for startup costs such as recruitment and initial program delivery (1). It hopes that this, along with a similar announcement for Grant Macewen College, will go a long way toward addressing the health-care professional shortage that Alberta is facing. It’s interesting, however, that the government did not simply expand the funding already available through Athabasca University.

Of course, the reason for this might be best understood by looking at those who do not understand at all, such as Mr. Don Braid of the Calgary Herald. Mr. Braid wrote, “Under an odd arrangement, the college has been teaching nurses since 2000, and then handing Athabasca sheepskins to the grads. The reason for this (if any reason makes sense) is that it’s kind of risky to teach nursing by correspondence” (2).

Had Mr. Braid researched the issue, he would have found that “correspondence” is only a small part of the program, and that graduates from this program have a pass rate on the Registered Nurses Exam that exceeds the national average. So to say that “it’s kind of risky to teach nursing by correspondence” suggests that the real risk is thinking that the Calgary Herald cares about making sure its content is well-researched and truthful.

Farms Encouraged to Fail

The federal government has announced a change to the previous Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization program that will see an extra billion dollars (that’s a thousand million) to “help address gaps in existing programs and significant increases in cost of production” (3).

Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, Chuck Strahl, went on to say “this new program combined with the disaster relief framework, improved production insurance, and an improved margin-based program represents this Government’s proposal for the replacement of CAIS…funds will be delivered through a direct payment to producers of non-supply managed commodities. Producers will receive a payment directly and will not have to apply. Details will be available in the coming weeks.”

In layman’s terms, this means if it’s gotten more expensive to plant, don’t worry, the government will make it so you don’t feel that cost. Worried about insurance payments? Why bother, the government already has a program set up to bail you out.

In any other industry, if the cost of production goes up, the business people would be expected to raise their prices accordingly, and if they couldn’t, to find another line of work. Someone running a Mr. Sub in Alberta who has to pay more for their workers because of the economic boom certainly doesn’t receive a “margin-based program” subsidy, to say nothing of getting one without having to apply.

What this program does is allow farmers who have grown poor selling crops to keep growing them instead of looking for more efficient ways to grow or finding better selling crops. Put another way, those who make their living by supply and demand are getting taxed to pay for those who do not.

Government Employment Services: $13,000/head

The federal government recently announced it was providing funding of 232,876 to help 18 youth in Alberta find work. This money will pay for a six month course for these youth in Brooks, Alberta. The kicker is that they only expect 80% of the participants will be successful in finding work or getting back into school.

$232,876 split between 18 people works out to $12,937.55 each. This is in Alberta — the province that is hosting career fairs in Atlantic Canada and Europe to try to encourage people to come here to take jobs. Yet the federal government has decided that it needs to spend nearly $13,000 per person to enable them to find a job. That’s the cost of 2 year diploma right there, and if you’re going to be spending that much on them, why not split it up among 36 people and give them each their first year of post-secondary free, or alternatively, put half of them entirely through post-secondary so that they can go out and start developing businesses of their own to hire the other half and boost the economy at the same time.

Investing in our youth is a winning proposition, but can’t we invest more wisely?

1. New nursing degree program established at Mount Royal College

2. University nursing degrees kick off new era at Mount Royal

3. Minister Strahl Comments on Farmer Savings Program and the Replacement of CAIS

4. Canada’s New Government invests $232,876 to help 18 youth in Alberta find work