Education News – Tories unveil PSE budget items

Liberals stick to fact-checking in face of repeat budget announcements

OTTAWA (CUP) ? The federal government has been rolling out post-secondary funding announcements despite each announcement repeating figures contained in the January budget.

The Conservatives have spent much of the spring promoting Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the 2009 budget brought in by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty after the government was prorogued in December.

Some of these announcements are aimed towards post-secondary students either directly through job creation or indirectly through university or associated funding.

For example, on April 15, Treasury Board President Vic Toews announced an increase of $20 million over two years to hire up to 2,000 additional students into the federal public service.

The Federal Student Work Experience Program, the Co-operative Education and Internship Program, and the Research Affiliate Program all benefited from an increase to their funding streams by the budget in January. The Treasury Board released the statement separately.

Also, on April 8, Industry Minister Tony Clement announced ?more than $455.1 million in 29 projects at post-secondary institutions? throughout British Columbia.

That figure is part of the $2-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Program contained in the budget, which aims to ?support infrastructure enhancement at Canadian post-secondary institutions.?

The separate announcement was released, according to Industry Canada, to ?celebrate the first round of projects to qualify under the program.?

Then there is Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Diane Ablonczy’s announcement on April 7 of $17.5 million through 2014 for the Small Business Internship Program.

The program will hire 400 student interns annually to help with information and communications technologies. It is part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy?funding of which was contained in the budget.

The Official Opposition isn’t playing catch-up to the announcements, preferring instead to contradict government statements.

For example, the Liberal Party took issue with Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear’s frequent reference to budget money for science and technology.

On April 7, at an event in Waterloo, Ont., Goodyear announced $50 million for the Institute of Quantum Computing. Promoting the event, Industry Canada stated: ?Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides more than $5.1 billion toward science and technology initiatives.?

?This is not the case,? the Liberal Party announced on April 21. ?The funding commitments the Conservatives cite to support this figure are not dedicated towards actual research projects, nor will the money necessarily even go towards infrastructure to create such projects.?

The Liberals have been brandishing Statistics Canada figures they believe demonstrate that ?science and technology research is not a priority for the Harper government,? arguing that ?when adjusted for inflation, federal funding for university research in 2008 was $187 million less than in 2005.?