MRU cautiously optimistic for 2015 budget
Deputy Premier and newly appointed Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education Dave Hancock visits Mount Royal University to talk money
The ghost of budgets past lingered in the air as Deputy Premier Dave Hancock walked the halls of Mount Royal University on Monday, Feb. 3. His visit was part of a province wide visit to all post-secondary institutions as the newly appointed Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education.
Hancock was not Minister when the province cut $147 million from Alberta’s post-secondary operating grants last year. However, the legacy left its mark on Mount Royal University — the suspension and cutting of eight programs, 72 job positions, as well as cuts to the maintenance and operating costs. Do you ever shiver in a classroom and need to wear your winter garments inside? You can blame that on the 2013-2014 budget cuts.
MRU president David Docherty does not expect great news for next year’s budget, but doesn’t have the same apprehensions or fears that he did this time last year. With regards to the budget he said “I am cautiously optimistic that we will get a little bit of a reinvestment, but at the worst case scenario we won’t be cut again. I’m hoping.”
When questioned about the upcoming budget, Hancock could not say anything for certain with regards to the potential March roll out. However, he warned that it is a period of fiscal restraint.
“Let’s make the most valuable use of resources that we can, I think I am meeting with all of the post-secondary (schools) across the province to talk about budget issues, (and) aspiration(s),” he said.
Hancock added that there would be 10 to 15 years of pressure on the system due to a baby boom and immigration. He hopes for steady growth, but as of right now, an unwavering state is all that can be promised.
Despite the looming budget and all that it entails, Hancock seemed ready to take on his new role. He wants to help break down any potential barriers for students so that they are set up for success when attending these institutions, as well as when finding a job post-graduation.
For Docherty, continuity is key. With the high turnover in the minster’s role, it has been hard to get things accomplished. He said that the reinstatement of Hancock as Minister has been beneficial.
“(…) we have somebody who was the former minister of advanced education, albeit it was a number of years ago. It has taken him less time to learn the file than it would for someone coming in from outside. That is just very helpful for all of us. I think it is helpful for the minister, I think it is helpful for all the post-secondary institutions in Alberta because he understands post-secondary.”
With another crack at the bat, hopefully Hancock is around long enough to make some positive changes and help everyone forget the foul taste of the 2013-2014 budget cuts.