Volume 91, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 4, 1998



Budget given A- by student lobby group

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

Members of the education community are giving the 1998 federal budget a passing grade, but not perfect marks.

The budget contained numerous initiatives geared towards improving post-secondary education, proving the government has addressed the critical condition of Canadian universities.

"It was a landmark budget for higher education in Canada, it provided significant new support in the areas we need it," said Western President Paul Davenport.

He applauded the government's initiatives to help combat student aid in the forms of scholarships, tax relief and debt reduction measures. In the area of research, although this year's increase of $107 million dollars to the granting councils was a breakthrough, Davenport said the funding for the next two years is not enough.

On the Millennium scholarship fund, Davenport said all universities are now working together to see if the scholarships could be implemented earlier than the year 2000 date. "We would like to see this program implemented by September 1999, but no one wants to rush it and get it wrong."

Hoops Harrison, national director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, the lobby group to which Western belongs, gave the budget the grade of A-. "It was good to see education was a priority, we have to give the government credit for that, but there is still a lot of work to do."

Harrison said he was very pleased that 90 per cent of the education announcements were CASA initiatives. "We still have some concerns about the other 10 per cent."

He explained the details of the Millennium scholarship are vague. "I don't want to pass judgement yet, but the limits of need are not accurately defined."

Brad Lavinge, national chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, CASA's rival lobby group, said he wanted to see increased transfer payments to the province for education initiatives as well as increased direct funding by the federal government. He was, however, pleased with many of the debt initiatives in the budget. "It is reflective of the political pressure staged by students."

Western's University Students' Council VP-student issues Sam Castiglione said the budget doesn't mean a great deal for students currently enrolled at university. "It does a lot for those who are on their way out and a lot for those about to come in, but not a lot for those of us who are here now."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998