UCP to go after federal grants after cutting postsecondary funding by $2.7B

Last week, the Alberta government announced a working group to “engage the federal government to get Alberta’s post-secondary institutions their fair share of research dollars.”

Last week, the Alberta government announced that they had organized a working group to “examine funding disparities and engage the federal government to get Alberta’s post-secondary institutions their fair share of research dollars.”

According to the announcement, an average of 48% of the sponsored research revenue that post-secondary institutions in Canada received over the last 15 years came from the federal government. Alberta received only 37%, on average.

While I think it’s important that post-secondary institutions in Alberta do receive adequate funding, there are a few things to remember.

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Federal funding makes up a small portion of post-secondary funding in Canada. Here’s the funding data for the 2017–2018 academic year (it was the most recent data I could find):

Tuition and fees$11,172,376,00028.27%
* Note: Non-federal funding includes provincial funding, which made up about 98% of non-federal funding.

As we can see, federal funding makes up less than 10% of the funding postsecondary institutions receive in Canada. These institutions receive nearly 3 times as much funding through tuition than they do through direct federal funding and nearly 4 times as much through the provincial governments.

Heck, universities and colleges get more from “other” sources of revenue (sales of services and products, as well as “miscellaneous”) than they do from federal funding.

Which makes me wonder why the Alberta government is so intent on going after such a small amount of the total funding that universities receive.

Especially since they themselves are underfunding postsecondary education by $2.728 billion.

All that being said, here are the members of the working group:

  • Curtis Clarke, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education
  • Katherine White, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism
  • Walter Dixon, Vice-president (Research) at University of Alberta
  • William Ghali, Vice-president (Research) at University of Alberta
  • Robert Wood, Vice-president (Research) at University of Alberta
  • Pamela Hawranik, Associate Vice-president (Research) at Athabasca University
  • Laura Kilcrease
  • Joy Romero
  • Rohit Joshi
  • Cam Linke
  • Keith Jones
  • Yeatland Wong

Laura Kilcrease has been the CEO of Alberta Innovates since 2017. This provincially-funded agency support innovation through funding, offering advice, networking, technical assistance, and applied research services.

Joy Romero is the vice-president of technology and innovation at Canadian Natural Resources Limited. He is also the chair of Clean Resources Innovation Network. Canadian Natural Resources donated nearly $125,000 to political parties, candidates, and constituency associations between 2004 and 2015. Parties included the PC Party, Wildrose, and theLiberals. Candidates have included such names as Derek Fildebrandt and Jeff Callaway. Constituency associations included Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater, various Calgary ridings, and Grande Prairie-Wapiti.

Rohit Joshi is the CEO of Brightsquid Secure Communications Corp. Last year, Joshi donated $4,000 to the UCP 2019 election campaign.

Cam Linke is the CEO of Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute.

Keith Jones is the general manager and chief financial officer at Rowland Farms, which donated $2,000 to the PC 2015 election campaign of Brian Brewin, the brother of the current CEO, Roy. Frank Brewin, the founder of the farm and the father both Roy and Brian, donated $1,000 to his son’s 2015 campaign.

Yeatland Wong is a senior ITS engineer at Stantec. Between 2004 and 2013, various Stantec locations donated over $53,000 collectively to the PC party.

Members of the working group will not be compensated for their time. Although they might get doughnuts.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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