Volume 96, Issue 79
Wednesday, February 19, 2003

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Budget features educational goodies

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff

For the sixth year in a row, Canada's federal government has produced a balanced budget, which features a $14 billion increase in spending on a wide-variety of public services, including a large increase towards post-secondary education.

Finance Minister John Manley presented the federal budget yesterday in the House of Commons, and his contribution to post-secondary education was substantial, despite being dwarfed by a commitment of $34.8 billion towards health care over the next five years.

Canada is a confident nation that can compete and win in any field, and in any market, Manley explained, while noting the new budget addresses many important funding needs.

"There can surely be no greater responsibility for any government than to provide for the security and safety of its people – and this budget does so," Manley explained.

"Our economic prosperity, our quality of life and our standard of living require Canada to be a world leader in innovation and learning, and to be a magnet for talent and investment – the mark of a "Northern Tiger," Manley explained.

Manley cited an annual $125 million increase to the budgets of the federal research granting councils, and a permanent substantial federal contribution to the indirect costs of research. Manley also outlined reformation of the Canadian Student Loans Program and the creation of 4,000 new scholarships to be made available for graduate students.

According to Western President Paul Davenport, this budget was a landmark for post-secondary institutions.

"[The funding of indirect costs of research] is something universities have been seeking for over two decades," Davenport said.

Though Josh Morgan, VP-education for the University Students' Council, was impressed by several of the initiatives outlined by Manley, he said he was concerned with the lack of accountability involved in federal funding for post-secondary institutions.

Morgan said the money allotted for universities by the federal government is transferred to the provinces as part of a package that also covers several other social programs.

"The province is not directly accountable for the money that the federal government wants [put towards] post-secondary institutions," Morgan said.

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