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In the city
Tory budget gets mixed reviews
By Stephanie Cesca
The education section of the new Tory budget announced last week has generated mixed reactions province-wide.
According to Rob Savage, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, the budget will take effect in September 2000 and will result in many positive outcomes.
"We are committed to economic growth and we have to ensure [the] government has revenue to help the education sector," he said.
Savage added the budget will allow $742 million to be spent on renovations and construction of new university buildings and it will also provide up to $3,500 in financial aid to students in their first year of college or university province-wide.
David Scott, spokesperson for the Council of Ontario Universities, applauded the new budget. "When you look at the overall budget, you see the government has put in huge resources in colleges and universities," he said.
Others, however, were not pleased with the budget. Henry Mandebaum, executive director of The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, attacked the budget for two reasons.
Mandebaum said the budget did not provide adequate funds for post-secondary education and that the money was ill-targeted. "We welcome the money, but that has to be placed into context," he said.
"One of the long-standing concerns is Ontario provides less money per person in operating grants for Ontario universities than does any other province for universities."
Mandebaum added since the money has been provided for capital spending, other priorities have been dismissed. "They're putting money forward to help build buildings. But this doesn't address problems of paying people to fill these buildings."
Other priorities which the budget ignored were increased tuition fees and a decrease of programs, Mandebaum said. "We believe that in its budget, the government did not move in its required direction."
Mark Kissel, VP-education for the University Students' Council, said although new money is always welcomed, not enough has been provided for priorities. "They didn't announce any money to go to financial aid," he said. "It's but a drop in the bucket. We really need more money to operate the programs here at the university."
SzeJack Tan, President of the USC also criticized how the money was targeted. "It's good but it's not answering to the needs of social science and arts students," he said.
Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, remained unsure about the situation. "I mean, there are elements of it I guess we have to applaud," he said. "But it's only part of what we need."
Another factor both Mandebaum and Scott acknowledged was Ontario universities could face a 40 per cent increase in student demand over the next decade which would cause a much greater demand of resources and financial support.
"They think they've made some progress, but it's really a minute amount," Kissel said.