Critics say post-secondary students to ‘bear the brunt’

Post-secondary institutions in Alberta will be receiving $147-million less in base operating grants than in the last fiscal year as part of the 2013 Alberta budget. Facing a projected multi-billion dollar deficit, the provincial government announced significant cuts to many sectors, including education.

Finance Minister Doug Horner called the budget a “watershed moment” with no new taxes or increases in operational spending.

Opposition parties were quick to react.

“Our post-secondary students will bear the brunt of major cuts to Advanced Education,” Brian Mason, leader for the New Democrat Party, said in a press release.

Alberta budget at a glance

  • $17.1-billion increase for the Ministry of Health‘s operational budget (an increase of almost $500 million)
  • $393 million for Alberta Health Services operating costs for new facilities
  • Significant decrease in Sustainability Fund
  • $9-million decrease in operational expenses for Human Services
  • $89 million for early intervention and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder initiatives
  • Decrease in employment training and income supports
  • Slight increase in funding for the 10-year plan to end homelessness
  • Suspension of the Summer Temporary Employment Program
  • $204-million increase in education
  • $2 billion in base operating grants for publicly funded post-secondary institutions
  • $71 million in scholarships
  • $1.4 billion for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs
  • Increase in funding for the provincial policing contract
  • $22-million decrease in the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development‘s operating budget
  • Funding suspended for the TransAlta Project Pioneer and Swan Hills Synfuels carbon capture and storage projects
  • $503 million over the next three years for 50 new schools and the modernization of 70 schools
  • $282 million over the next three years for new facilities at post-secondary schools

“This is the broken promises budget,” Mason continued, adding “There are [many cuts to] services that vulnerable Albertans depend upon along with serious cuts to our schools, colleges and universities.”

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith called the budget “the back in debt budget” in a press release. “It will take a new generation to pay off the $17 billion in new debt,” Smith said.

Surrounded by reporters at the legislature, the finance minister conceded, “We are having a tough time, here.”

For more information about the budget, visit the Government of Alberta website.

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