Federal funding for universities, research welcomed


Finance minister Paul Martin's tax-cutting budget, announced yesterday, contained good news for Canadian universities.

The federal government is providing a one-time $2.5 billion transfer payment for post-secondary education and health care. It also made significant commitments to university research through the allocation of $900 million to extend the Canada Foundation for Innovation program into 2005, and the same amount, over five years, for the establishment of the 21st Century Chairs for Research Excellence.

Increased funding for post-secondary education and university research is a much-needed boost for Canada's universities, says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada president Robert Giroux. “Our members will now look to provincial governments to use this increase to enhance the core operating budgets of Canadian universities,” says Giroux.

The news is music to the ears of McMaster administrators as well. The University has been extremely successful under the Canada Foundation for Innovation program and University Provost and Vice-President Academic Harvey Weingarten is optimistic that this success will continue.

Weingarten says the funding for new research chairs will help the University rebuild its faculty complement. Acting associate dean of research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Raelene Rathbone, says she hopes this new funding will help to stem the brain drain of Canadian researchers moving to the United States.

Martin also announced that the tax-exempt level of scholarships and bursaries would be increased from $500 to $3,000.

But student leaders say the budget does little to alleviate the financial concerns they face.

Other announcements made by Martin which are expected to benefit Canadian universities include:

*$160 million to create Genome Canada Project (which will involve the creation of five centres across Canada)

*$700 million to promote environmental technologies and practices (this includes the establishment of a Canadian Foundation for Climate & Atmospheric Sciences)

(With files from The Hamilton Spectator, Feb. 29, 2000)