Volume 91, Issue 69

Friday, January 30, 1998

cheque please


Feds show signs of support

By Brendan Howe
Gazette Staff

As student protests begin to spread across the country over the current student financial situation it seems those attending post-secondary schools are finally getting support from the federal government.

With the budget for the Canadian government expected to be announced in February, the details of the Millennium Scholarship Fund will come to fruition as one of the main parts of the agenda. The fund was initially announced in September as a $1 billion scholarship program for university and college students.

On Wednesday in Toronto, Finance Minister Paul Martin spoke at a fund-raising dinner and gave some positive news for students. "We have a responsibility to invest in our young and that is why I can tell you that the Prime Minister's Millennium fund is going to be a centrepiece of the next budget," he said.

Sophie Gallarneau, press officer in the Prime Minister's office, said there are just a few final points about the fund currently being ironed out. "[Jean Chrétien] is aware of the situation students are in and the efforts put forward in the Millennium Fund will help the situation," she said.

The student debt issue has never been at the forefront of a budget discussion before, but Hoops Harrison, national director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said this year's attention is due to the different approach his lobby group took this year.

"The reason why they're making these comments is because the issue has been pushed all year," he said. He added his group has been lobbying the government since the summer and has been consulted extensively during meetings with Martin.

University Students' Council President Ryan Parks agreed that the government is talking about student debt because of CASA. He added he was pleased to see this issue finally in the government's agenda and attributed the focus on students to the government already taking care of more politically pressing issues in their first term.

Western President Paul Davenport told the university's Board of Governors yesterday he would also like the provincial government to address educational issues with increased funding to universities.

"We're hoping there will be an announcement in the [provincial government's] spring budget that will respond to our urgent need for grants."

–With files from Canadian Press

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