Originally posted 20 June 2016
As the provincial budget approaches, various education lobby groups are seeking to influence (at the last minute since all key decisions have been made by now – 8 March 2017) the government to support their sector’s priorities. The articles below highlight the desire of private schools to head off government veering to de-fund home-schooling and private charter schools and to place the money into public education. Another perennial request is funding for new schools.
Recently, there has been media attention paid to demands for new schools in the Edmonton area. Other media articles have discussed the ambitious plan of the new NDP government to rewrite the provincial curriculum.
On 8 September a major announcement was made concerning research infrastructure at the University of Alberta. Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt, Amarjeet Sohi, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Navdeep Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced a list of 10 infrastructure projects totaling $132 million over 2 years according to an article in the Edmonton Journal. [uofa-research-facilities-set-for-82-5m-upgrade9-9-16-ej]
Unfortunately such announcements, repeated many times over the course of the building process, are often inconsistent between the initial announcement and final cost determination as well as the different point of view given from the various governments or institutions.
At the University of Calgary, the 9 September provincial government announcement was for $78 million for eight projects from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (“SIF”). According to the release, a total of $160 million in SIF funding will flow to Alberta “including “$82 million in a mix of provincial funding, philanthropy and the university’s own infrastructure dollars.” Other large numbers introduced in the press release where the $449 million in post-secondary capital projects announced in Budget 2016 and $2 billion in federal dollars for SIF to “accelerate” infrastructure projects on Canadian campuses.
According to the UofA announcement the $82.5 million was made up of $56.3 million from the SIF program and $26.5 million from the province. ($300,000 inexplicably seems to have been lost in the rounding.) Like the UofC announcement, the numbers were increased by private sector and university funds to arrive at $132 million.
In addition to these monies, on 1 September, UoC and UofA received a total of $150 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. For $75 million, UofC will establish a “Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources.” UofA will create a “Future Energy Systems Research Initiative.” This announcement was confirmed on 6 September by Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Kent Hehr (a Calgary M.P.), on behalf of federal Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan.
On Friday 9 September, Presidents David Turpin and Elizabeth Cannon co-authored an opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal outlining the federal commitments for research funding (operating dollars, not capital dollars).
Calling the federal government’s announcement “visionary,” there is no mention of the infrastructure money provided, nor is the provincial government’s role in the funding of post-secondary education mentioned. Oddly absent is mention of “students” who will benefit from carrying out this research. The co-authors however refer to “the education of future energy leaders.”