Volume 96, Issue 67
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

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Provincial accountability questioned by Manley

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Federal Finance Minister John Manley raised concerns last week that money given to the provinces for post-secondary education is not being spent where it should be.

Manley – speaking at a public meeting at the University of Ottawa – said he was concerned about access to post-secondary education.

"I'll tell you I'm frustrated by our transfer system – where we give money, it goes into the big provincial pot. We have no say in how it's spent," Manley stated, in reference to the Canada Health and Social Transfer, a transfer payment made by the federal government to the provinces to pay for education, health and welfare programs.

"I'll be darned if I'm just going to put more money into [CHST] for the provinces to simply raise the tuition fees and take the money back out of the pocket on the other side," he added.

"I would agree there is an issue with the federal government giving the provinces money where it goes into provincial pot," said Josh Morgan, University Students' Council VP-education.

The issue is accountability and where the provinces are spending CHST money in post-secondary education, he said. "If we increase earmarked funding for post-secondary education, we can ensure the government remains accountable," Morgan added.

"We have to be very accountable with the way we spend money in post-secondary education," said Dianne Cunningham, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Key performance indicators – which students report to their universities and the universities then report to the ministry – are an example of accountability, she said.

Five years ago, the province put a two per cent cap on tuition increases per year, because the federal government cut transfers, Cunningham said. "[The federal government] does not have a very good track record," she said.

The levels of government closer to delivering the service – like the province – are more accountable in this area, Cunningham added.

According to Manley, the federal government makes direct payment for post-secondary education through such things as granting councils, indirect funding for research, student loans and Millennium Scholarships.

"I think this [direct] funding has stemmed from a lack of accountability with the CHST," Morgan said, adding the federal government attach strings to the transfer, which ensure accountability.

"We would like to see co-operation where money is guaranteed for post-secondary education, rather than a system of blind trust through CHST," Morgan added.

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