Government boosts support for university research


Universities in Ontario, including McMaster, will benefit from a number of new programs and initiatives announced in the 2000 budget.

Finance minister Ernie Eves announced new funding for research infrastructure and overhead costs, additional funds for the Superbuild program and incentives for medical students.

“This is good news for the post-secondary sector,” says University provost and vice-president academic Harvey Weingarten. “We're especially pleased the government is boosting its support for university research.”

Initiatives announced in the budget that will benefit universities include:

* a tripling of the Ontario Innovation Trust fund with the addition of $500 million for research infrastructure;

* a doubling of funding to the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund to $100 million this year;

* an expansion of the Superbuild fund with an additional $286 million to support an additional 24 projects and create 15,587 more student spaces;

* the creation of a new $30-million Ontario Research Performance Fund to cover overhead costs associated with Ontario-funded research;

* a doubling of the Premier's Research Excellence Awards;

* $4 million for free tuition to medical students to practise in rural or northern areas after graduation;

* $75 million to transfer doctors at academic health sciences institutions to alternate payment plans;

* an increase in the number of spaces for medical students;

* an increase in the number and value of Ontario Graduate Scholarships;

* a doubling of the Ontario Work-Study Program.

University students also received some good news. The government announced it was increasing the study-period employment and scholarship exemptions for students who receive OSAP loans.

The budget did not include additional operating funds for universities.

The initiatives were welcomed by the Council of Ontario Universities, in a release posted at

However, Deborah Flynn, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said in a Hamilton Spectator story (May 3) that the Ontario budget failed to address any of the critical issues her organization discussed with the government. “It provides no new money for basic operating grants and no new money to maintain and provide the faculty that we're going to need for the influx of students that's coming.”