The Party Line
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) has released the results of a pre-election survey of the major political parties asking for their positions on key areas relating to post-secondary education. Their responses appear below.
INVESTING IN CAPACITY AND QUALITY
1. If your party forms the next government, will you work with the provinces to negotiate a dedicated transfer for postsecondary education?
LIBERAL: The Liberal government is a significant and long-standing partner in post-secondary education. The current Liberal government contributes over $7 billion per year in cash transfers to provincial and territorial governments and through a range of programs to support students and research.
As for transfers, they are but one way in which the Federal government currently supports PSE. The Liberal government will continue to work collaboratively with its provincial and territorial partners to discuss the most appropriate way to support access to PSE institutions. In 2005-06, the Liberal government will provide over $14 billion through the Canada Social Transfer (CST), including $7.1 billion in cash and $7 billion in tax transfers.
CONSERVATIVE: The Conservative Party of Canada believes investing in education and training will be a significant component of Canada’s future prosperity and competitiveness. A Conservative government will remove post-secondary education funding from the Canada Social Transfer and create an independent Canada Education and Training Transfer. The Transfer will be funded at a base level and increased annually according to inflation and demographic growth. The Transfer will be negotiated with the provinces and territories to ensure the funding is targeted to post-secondary education.
2. If your party forms the next government, will you ensure that the Indirect Costs program provides reimbursement of a minimum rate of 40 percent of the direct costs of federally sponsored research so that universities will cover fewer of these costs from their general operating budgets?
LIBERAL: In 2005–06, post-secondary institutions will receive $260 million under the Indirect Costs of Research program to help them meet the costs associated with research. On top of this, in the November 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update, the Liberal government committed $1.2 billion over five years to funding of research to over 40 percent of direct costs. Under the Liberal government, funding for the indirect costs of research will rise to $510 million per year.
To ensure that these new resources lead to an improved research and learning environment, the Liberal government will work with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada to improve reporting by institutions on such important measures as the quantity and quality of research, graduation rates, and the average time to complete degrees.
CONSERVATIVE: A Conservative Government would continue to fund the indirect costs of research and would look forward to discussing an increase in the funding level of the Indirect Costs program. We recognize that Canada’s universities are global leaders in research and we are committed to seeing that continue. Not only will this benefit Canada’s universities and researchers, all Canadians stand to gain from the ensuing advancements in science and technology.
NDP: The federal government has under-funded research for more than a decade. New Democrats are committed to an increase in funding for research. Balance and fairness are important elements in getting education investment right and we’ll work with education groups like yours to balance out and bring our level of research investment to more adequately reflect the realities of today’s research community.
INVESTING IN AFFORDABILITY, OUTREACH AND SUPPORT
3. If your party forms the next government, what will you do to ensure that money invested in student financial aid is going to those students most in need and that it is sufficient to meet the need?
LIBERAL: The Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) is the primary instrument of the federal government for promoting access to post-secondary education. The CSLP has been very effective in promoting access to post-secondary education over the years, as evidenced by the fact that Canadians have the highest attainment rate with respect to post-secondary education in the world. In recent budgets we have introduced a number of important enhancements to the CSLP, reflecting its ongoing commitment to the program’s ability to keeps pace with the evolving financial needs of students and their families.
Some of these enhancements include the Millennium Scholarship Foundation,
Canada Study Grants, Canada Education Savings Grant Program, the Canada
Learning Bond, Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Canada Access Grant.
CONSERVATIVE: During the mid-nineties the federal Liberal government cut billions of dollars in transfers to the provinces which limited provincial investment in post-secondary education and caused dramatic increases in tuition costs. These tuition increases have resulted in heavy student debt for many Canadian students and graduates. Unfortunately, this has also prevented some bright and talented Canadians from pursuing post-secondary education.
In order to help Canadian students to meet the financial challenges of attending university and technical college the Conservative Party of Canada has announced a number of initiatives. We have a comprehensive trades policy which includes a Tools Tax Deduction for up to $500 spent on tools; a $1,000 Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for two years for apprentices in approved programs; and an Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit of 10 per cent of an apprenticeship’s wages for two years to a maximum of $2,000. A Conservative government would also introduce a tax credit for students or their parents on spending of up to $500 to help cover the costs of textbooks. We would also work cooperatively with the provinces to increase family income thresholds for student loan eligibility and exempt the first $10,000 of student scholarship or bursary income from taxation. We believe that our proposals are an excellent first step towards increasing Canada’s productivity and competitiveness in the global marketplace.
A Conservative government is committed to bringing balance to the fiscal relationship between the federal government, and provincial, territorial and municipal governments. We believe that only through a long term, comprehensive agreement which addresses both the vertical and horizontal fiscal imbalance can matters such as the funding of post-secondary education can be properly addressed
NDP: New Democrats are committed to improving student financial aid by properly investing in a long term financial grants program and overhauling the Canada Student Loans Program to make it comprehensive and accessible so that it reduces the burden of student debt.
4. If your party forms the next government, what measures will you take to ensure that financial aid is available to under-represented groups and that universities can provide the necessary outreach and support to ensure that these groups can benefit fully from higher education?
LIBERAL: The Liberal government has undertaken a number of initiatives designed to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to access post-secondary education. A key outcome of the 2005 First Ministers Meeting with National Aboriginal Leaders was the commitment of $1.8 billion over the next five years to further Aboriginal education, with $500 million of this money being used for Aboriginal post-secondary education. To assist Canadians living with disabilities to pursue higher education, the Liberal Government proposed a new Post-Secondary Education Innovation Fund. This fund in part will provide one-time funding to provinces and territories to improve the accessibility of Canadian post-secondary institutions for persons with disabilities. Finally, the Liberal government has committed $1.3 billion over this year and the next five to enhance immigrant settlement and integration programs. This initiative will provide new Canadians with access to language training and the tools to pursue further education.
As well, in the November 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update, the Liberal government introduced several important initiatives to increase financial support for post-secondary students in need. One example, the Canada Access Grant, currently provides grants covering half of first-year tuition, up to a maximum of $3,000, to low-income students. It will now be extended to provide similar grants covering up to four years of undergraduate study, beginning in 2006–07. Extending the Canada Access Grant represents an additional investment of $110 million per year, and will benefit an additional 55,000 students each year.
CONSERVATIVE: A Conservative government will work cooperatively with the provinces to ensure greater access to post-secondary education for all Canadians. Progressive changes to the Canada Student Loan Program, and changes to the tax system making books more affordable and allowing students to keep more of the money they receive from scholarships and bursaries will definitely help more Canadians from all backgrounds achieve their goal of receiving a university or college education.
NDP: We are committed to a long-term federal grant system that includes special grants for under-represented groups, especially Aboriginal youth
INVESTING IN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
5. If your party forms the next government, will you take the necessary measures to triple the annual number of university students who have an international education opportunity, and to ensure that the best and brightest students from other countries are attracted to study at Canadian universities?
LIBERAL: Encouraging Canadian students to study in other countries broadens their horizons, and allows them to acquire diversified skills they can then apply in a Canadian context. In the 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update, the Liberal government committed to invest $150 million over five years to improve access to international education, and to enable institutions to participate in international networks. This will be accomplished primarily through the establishment of scholarship programs to enable young Canadians to study and pursue research opportunities in other countries by providing them with financial assistance. The Liberal Government will also develop and implement measures to encourage more foreign students to study in Canada.
CONSERVATIVE: Having the opportunity to study internationally can greatly enhance and enrich a student’s education. Visiting scholars and students also enrich learning environments at Canadian universities. A Conservative government would work cooperatively with the provinces to discuss the development of additional learning opportunities for Canadian students to study abroad and for international students to attend Canadian institutions of higher learning.
NDP: New Democrats will work with the provinces and territories to ensure stable, long term funding and build the capacity to attract more foreign students to Canada as well as send Canadian students abroad.
INVESTING IN GRADUATE STUDIES AND UNIVERSITY RESEARCH
6. If your party forms the next government, will you undertake the necessary investments to begin to close this gap by supporting more students to pursue graduate studies and ensuring that universities have the faculty and infrastructure necessary to educate 25 percent more graduate students over the next four years?
LIBERAL: In 2003, the Liberal Government introduced the Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) to support students in pursuing graduate studies in Canadian institutions. The program is delivered by the three granting councils. In 2006–07 the program will support 2000 masters and 2000 doctoral students. In the 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update, the Liberal government committed to provide new resources totaling $210 million over the next five years to support a 50-per-cent increase in the number of CGS awards in all disciplines, including science and engineering. The new awards will be distributed equally among masters and doctoral students. When fully phased in, the CGS program will support 6,000 students each year.
Individuals with both strong science and business backgrounds often act as the key links between the research laboratory and the marketplace, facilitating the transfer of knowledge needed to translate research leadership into economic success; as such, 2,400 of the CGS awards will be specifically dedicated to the sciences and engineering.
Furthermore, the Liberal Government committed $1 billion over the next two years to ensure that post-secondary institutions have the infrastructure to attract the highest caliber faculty and students. This money will support cutting edge innovations in education, such as smart classrooms, networked laboratories, interactive libraries and distance learning.
CONSERVATIVE: To ensure Canada’s competitiveness in the global marketplace we must provide more opportunities for students to pursue graduate studies. A Conservative government would work cooperatively with the provinces to address this challenge. We believe that improving the funding structure to universities and restoring balance to the fiscal relationship between the provinces and the federal government will go a long way in helping universities enhance both under-graduate and graduate program opportunities.
NDP: New Democrats believe in post secondary education as a way to build a strong and prosperous economy. We will work with the provinces and territories to ensure stable, long term funding to build the infrastructure necessary to educate 25 percent more graduate students over the next four years.
7. If your party forms the next federal government, will you ensure that university-based research in Canada is funded at internationally competitive levels through the federal research granting agencies?
LIBERAL: Since 1997, the Liberal government has invested close to $12 billion to improve the research environment at our universities and research hospitals - helping our country to reach first place among G7 countries in research performed at universities.
In order to sustain Canada’s leadership in university research, in the Economic and Fiscal Update of November 2005 Update, the Liberal government committed to increasing the annual budgets of the granting councils by $85 million, starting in 2006–07. This will translate into an increase of $35 million each for CIHR and NSERC, and $15 million for SSHRC.
CONSERVATIVE: Research at Canada’s universities helps to drive our economy and improve our lives. In this era of increasing global competitiveness we must ensure that Canada’s universities have the resources they need to continue this valuable contribution to Canadian society. A Conservative government will continue to fund research through the granting councils and will work toward improving the percentage of GDP invested in research and development at Canada’s universities.
NDP: New Democrats are committed to an increase in funding for university research. Balance and fairness are important elements in getting education investment right and we’ll work with education groups like yours to ensure Canada’s university based research is internationally competitive.
8. If your party forms the next government, will you ensure that the Canada Foundation for Innovation is able to meet and maintain this international 20 percent standard for funding of university research infrastructure?
LIBERAL: The Liberal government is committed to reinvesting in research and development across Canada. In 1997 it created the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to help spur research and development throughout Canada’s postsecondary institutions. In also includes significant increases to the budgets of the three main research agencies. In our Innovation Agenda, released by the Liberal government in February 2001, we continued the commitment of helping Canada’s research and development sector grow by establishing the Indirect Costs of Research Program, allowing post secondary institutions to reduce the impact that federally funded research has on their overall budget.
Then in the Economic and Fiscal Update of November 2005 the Liberal government committed additional money to help university institutions and research agencies like CFI meet their needs to complete internationally. These monetary commitments include:
• $1.2 billion over the next five years for the Indirect Costs of Research program that will bring the Liberal government’s level of support to over 40 percent of direct federal research funding;
• $1 billion for post secondary infrastructure to help Canada’s educational institutions modernize and improve facilities;
• An increase of $85 million increase to the granting agencies’ research budgets;
• $500 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation to continue its research and development over the next five years; and,
• $160 million over five years to support large-scale facilities that bring together university researchers and innovative companies.
CONSERVATIVE: We recognize the importance of organizations such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation and want to see their work continue. A Conservative government will ensure that the Canada Foundation for Innovation meets and maintains the 20 percent standard for funding of university research infrastructure.
NDP: New Democrats will guarantee the provinces and territories stable, predictable funding for post-secondary education. We’re committed to innovation and investment in all areas of education including improvements in research infrastructure funding.