Volume 92, Issue 79

Wednesday, February 17, 1998


Editorial Board 1998-99

Budget needs an education

Editorial Cartoon

Budget needs an education

While yesterday's federal budget was good news to many health care providers, those in the education system have been left out in the cold wondering why they were ignored.

Last year's budget was all about education. The Millennium Scholarship Foundation was introduced and $2.5 billion was committed to it. This year, health care was on the "to do" list of the federal government and Finance Minister Paul Martin decided it would get a shot in the arm in excess of $11.5 billion.

Apparently the federal Liberals have a one-track mind.

Dealing with a huge budget surplus, educational issues were barely mentioned, let alone dealt with. While transfer payments for the provinces in terms of health care increased, the same didn't happen for education – something which drastically needs to be addressed.

Education in Ontario, as well as other provinces, is in a state of disrepair and must be addressed annually. Martin may have decided last year's education kick staved off an onslaught of problems associated with lagging university grants, rising tuition and student debt levels – but it simply did not.

While research funding was improved, that has little, if anything to do with students who can no longer go into programs at post secondary institutions simply because they cost too much. If this government were really committed to health care, then something would be done to ensure the next generation of doctors and nurses are of acceptable quality and that high school students have an equal shot of assuming those positions.

Ontario, however, does have some leeway in terms of where its government decides to focus health care spending and the provincial government has made a commitment to alleviate shortages of nurses – but a federal mistake must be rectified further at the provincial level. Medical schools need more funding as well as all other educational programs.

Kudos to the federal government for trying to fix a current problem with health care but they are paving the way for future problems with education. Any student looking for positives in this budget from an educational standpoint will be looking for quite a long time – there simply aren't any.

It's time for both federal and provincial governments to take a serious look at education, not just a surface glance.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999