“What we heard loud and clear from our institutions and our students was that longer-term sustainable funding is extremely important to post-secondary so that they can plan into the future.”
That’s what Greg Weadick, then the province’s Minister of Advanced Education and Technology, told The Reflector just over one year ago.
He was referring to the three year sustainable funding with a two per cent increase every year that was promised to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions in 2012.
The new budget, released on March 7, not only reneges on that promise, it cuts post-secondary funding by a further 6.8 per cent, leaving universities with almost nine per cent less than expected.
They also promised $18-million for a grant program to help aboriginal and rural students. That’s not happening now either.
Mount Royal University expected to receive $85.5-million for the new library we’ve been needing for years. The library is likely still going to happen, but with $55.5-mil- lion less than we were promised.
Funny how they were hearing us “loud and clear” before the election, but now the Government of Alberta appears to have developed some acute hearing and memory loss.
“The budget is firm now for three years,” Weadick said in 2012. “Schools know what they’re going to get, and they can build from that.”
Not so much, actually. The promises made by the Conservatives in last year’s pre-election budget were definitely met with some skepticism at the time.
A Wildrose Party release called it an “Alison in Wonderland” budget with revenue predictions that are “nothing short of fiction and given the world debt crisis, incredibly irresponsible.”
The Liberals accused the PCs of hiding behind a “coward’s budget,” and called for today’s bills to be paid with today’s taxes rather than “stealing from future generations.”
Yeah. About that.
The Conservatives did manage to keep at least one promise: there will be no new or increased taxes. Unfortunately, that means the province will be borrowing billions to make ends meet.
Weadick ended the 2012 inter- view with the self-congratulatory question, “Wouldn’t that be a positive thing in this province if we could see more of our students transitioning from high school going to our post-secondaries?”
It would indeed, Greg. Too bad the new budget has already caused MRU to drop 320 student slots from the enrollment list.