Volume 94, Issue 9

Thursday, September 14, 2000


USC elections could get facelift

Frank sets sights on UWO prof

Council hops aboard new campaign

USC and Health Unit target drinking

Student leaders fight for more federal support


Student leaders fight for more federal support

By Mike Murphy

Gazette Staff

A big federal funding increase to health care has Canada's premiers smiling, but it has prompted student leaders to make demands for more federal support of post-secondary education.

On Monday, Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced the federal government will restore over $24 billion in health care funds to the provinces, over the next five years.

Lyndon Simmons, research and policy coordinator for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said he thinks the federal Liberals should now turn their attention to university funding.

"CASA would like to see a pan-Canadian agreement on education, as they now have on health care," he said.

Simmons said in 1995 the Liberals cut $4 billion from the Canada Health and Social Transfer, the lump sum which it disperses to provinces.

The CHST payment is targeted toward education, health care and social services, said Jean-Michel Catta, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance. Catta explained while the money must be spent in those three areas, it is up to provinces to decide what proportion of the money goes to each of the three categories.

Catta confirmed the CHST was cut by $4 billion in 1995, but explained the fund has a built-in tax point component which has become more valuable to the provinces in recent years, due to the success of Canada's economy.

"Of course, health care was considered to be a priority across the country and something had to be done," he said of the announcement.

He added the attention paid to health care does not mean post-secondary education will be ignored and defended the Liberals' record on education spending.

"If you look in past budgets, there has been increased investment in education," he said, adding the creation of 2000 research chairs across Canada in the last budget, as well as the Millennium Scholarship Program are both examples of federal funding for higher education, independent of the CHST.

Here at Western, the University Students' Council's VP-academic, Jeff Sutton, said the federal government can do more to help university and college students.

"What we were looking for was for the funds to be restored but, also, for some funds to be earmarked for education," Sutton said.

Sutton also said he is hopeful there could be additional federal money for post-secondary education in the pipeline.

"I'm feeling confident. I don't think this is the end of it," he said, of the potential for increased transfer payments.

Catta said he could not speculate on whether more money could be on the way, explaining the government plans to consult with Canadians across the country in the fall to find out what they want in the next budget.

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