Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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Prime Minister to visit Western

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien will be visiting Western today to celebrate federal funding of post-secondary education.

Chrétien will be honoured in a formal program at Western at 7 p.m. at the Great Hall in Somerville House.

"We are especially pleased that the Prime Minister will be in attendance because we want to thank him for his support for universities," said Western President Paul Davenport, noting the visit during Western's 125th anniversary demonstrates the close, ongoing relationship between the federal government and Canadian universities.

The visit is being hosted by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and was prompted by the federal government's increased funding for universities and research in Canada, stated Thoren Hudyma, senior press officer at the Office of the Prime Minister.

According to Hudyma, the federal government has initiated a score of programs to restore funding and improve the quality of universities and research in Canada. Programs such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which funds research excellence, have received another $500 million in the latest federal budget.

"We've seen the benefits come out of universities and research," Hudyma asserted, adding the allocation of $225 million in the federal budget for the indirect costs of research promises to enhance the quality of research in Canada.

The event will be attended by university presidents from across Canada who have gathered to celebrate Chrétien's and the federal government's efforts to enhance the quality of research, as well provide funding for student assistance programs, stated Christinan Sylvain, director of government relations and public affairs with the AUCC.

According to Sylvain, the federal government has increased budget spending for the Canada graduate scholarships, created the Millennium Scholarships for undergraduate students, as well as improved the Canada student loans program.

"We need to continue to improve [research and universities] to meet the standards of the Canadian federal government," Sylvain stated, noting the federal government has now provided the foundation to improve universities in Canada, however, the goal must now be to intensify the funding of important programs, such as student assistance.

"I think the investments have revitalized our research programs," Sylvain added.

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