Federal government could do much more to help universities

ocufa.on.ca – OCUFA Report, Volume 5, Issue 30
September 14, 2011.

Just when the nation’s most pressing need is economic recovery, austerity is the name of the game in Ottawa, including grants to research agencies and postsecondary institutions vital to the developing Canada’s long-term social, cultural, and economic strength.

The federal government has been slowly but surely cutting granting councils’ base budgets (adjusted for inflation) over the past five years. Since 2007-08, funding for SSHRC in real terms has declined by over 10 per cent. NSERC’s funding has also declined, by 1.2 per cent. Support for CIHR has dropped 4.1 per cent.

The funding agencies are just one part of the federal government diminishing support for universities. Support from the Canada Social Transfer program, which flows money to the provinces for postsecondary education, is more than $400 million below what’s needed just to bring back 1992-93 funding levels (adjusting for inflation and population growth). The CST’s three per cent annual escalator provision, moreover, won’t meet higher enrolments and rising costs.

The Canadian government’s deficit reduction campaign is hard to justify. The federal debt as a share of GDP remains lower than in 2005-06 and is lower than any other G-7 country.

Source: CAUT Statement Regarding 2012 Budget

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