• Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads

Views

Total Views
478
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0

Actions

Shares
Downloads
1
Comments
0
Likes
0

Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
    No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 Canadian Federation of Students 14 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 09876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 9876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 098765432109876543210987654321210987654321098765432109876543212109876543210987654321098765432121098765432109876543210987654321 0 1 1 August, 2001 Standing Committee on Finance House of Commons submission to the Canadian Federation of Students
  • 2. Canadian Federation of Students’ Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance August, 2001 INTRODUCTION system of post-secondary education is working to exacerbate the gap between The unprecedented growth of the those who prosper in the new economy Canadian economy over the past six and those who languish in low-paying, years has created unique challenges and unfulfilling work. In the past three opportunities. On June 1, 2000 the budgets the federal government has gross domestic product reached the undertaken a variety of new policy benchmark of $1 trillion and the past initiatives under the banner of the “new three federal budgets have produced economy” and the challenge of surpluses of over $5 billion. Using providing opportunities for all. conservative economic indicators, the However, as we shall outline, these Canadian Association of University measures have, for the most part, been Teachers estimates the surplus will cosmetic. grow to at least $34.6 billion over the Besides calling for more core funding, next five years. Despite these this brief will make the case that the achievements the gap between the rich money the federal government is and poor in Canada continues to widen. investing in post-secondary education According to the Canadian Fact Book and research could be allocated more on Poverty there are 1.3 million more effectively. In addition, though the poor households in Canada than there federal government has restored a were 20 years ago. Between 1981 and portion of the funding cut to the Canada 1997, the rate of poverty among young Health and Social Transfer (CHST) in families more than doubled from 21.7 1994, almost none of this new funding per cent to 46.1 per cent. is being used for public colleges and During this same period of economic universities. The federal government expansion and increased poverty, the has yet to implement any framework cost of post-secondary education has with the provinces that works toward dramatically increased and access to national standards of quality and education for low and middle income mobility. Before such a framework can Canadians is declining. An important be built the federal government must indicator about the mismatch between find a means of making the provinces macro-economic prosperity and the more accountable for the funds declining opportunities for low and transferred under the CHST designed to middle income Canadians can be found fund post-secondary education. in recent trends in post-secondary In the light of the trends outlined above education policy. Regrettably, Canada’s it is regrettable that the Standing 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 1
  • 3. Committee on Finance has decline in access to post-secondary recommended that almost all of the education among low and middle accrued surplus for the next three years income Canadians. Throughout the be allocated for tax cuts. Tax cuts will 1990’s, the federal government pointed do nothing to address the growing to high participation rates to argue that income disparity in Canada and, more funding cuts have had no effect on importantly, they limit the access to post-secondary education. government’s ability to properly fund However, recent data suggests that programs like healthcare and post- there is a direct link between funding secondary education that soften socio- and accessibility. Between 1990 and economic divisions. In this brief we 2000, tuition fees increased by a will outline how these recent policy national average of 126%. During this measures are actually contributing to same period, university operating what Judith Maxwell called the ‘social revenues from governments fell by deficit’ and why the basic tenor of 25%.1 Student debt also rose from an federal government policy on post- average of $8,000 in 1990 to $25,000 in secondary education is moving us 1998. further away from the democratic goal The effect of this paradigm shift in how of a high quality system of universal education is funded has been felt most education accessible to all. acutely by low and middle income This brief will be divided into three Canadians. Canadians who are in the sections: Access to Post-Secondary bottom 20% in terms of after-tax Education; Research; and Skills and income now devote 23% of their after- Training. In each section we assess tax income to tuition fees and current policy as well as offer proactive educational expenses.2 That figure solutions to the problems endemic in represents a 64% increase from 1991. our system of post-secondary During this period, the after-tax income education. The policy themes and of this demographic decreased by 3% in recommendations that govern this brief real dollars.3 will explore both the economic and The downloading of educational costs social peril Canada invites by ignoring from the collective pool of public the crisis in post-secondary education. resources to the individual has had a ACCESS: OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL? predictable effect on access. Over the past 18 months reliable data has “Every Canadian who wants to learn emerged that tracks the effect of the should have the opportunity to do so. public policy terms enumerated above. Students from lower income families At the University of Western Ontario a are under-represented in our institutions study was undertaken to quantify the of higher learning. Too many are effects of tuition fee increases. The deterred from pursuing higher study documented the household education because of a fear of a large income of two groups of students. The debt.” first were students entering Western’s Paul Martin, 1998 medical school in the first year in The withdrawal of federal funding over which tuition fees had been fully the past decade has led to a steady 2 Canadian Federation of Students
  • 4. deregulated, resulting in substantial fee These findings provide conclusive increases. The second group were evidence that tuition fees operate as a fourth year medical students who had direct barrier to families at the low end entered the program three years earlier of the socio-economic scale. In short, during a period when the fees were federal and provincial under-funding of regulated and considerably lower. The education is creating yet another divide study found that after deregulation, the in Canadian society between those who participation rates of students from have access to the skills, training, and families with a household income of experience of post-secondary education less than $40,000 dropped by more than and those Canadians who are denied 50% (from 17.3% to just 7.7%). access for purely financial reasons. This Participation rates of students from mounting evidence supports the very high-income families tripled, from prescient claim of the Maritime 8.6% to 24.4%. A similar study at the Provinces Higher Education University of Guelph found that the Commission in its study of accessibility number of students entering the in 1997: University of Guelph from homes with The research clearly demonstrates that family incomes of $40,000 or less was the cost of post-secondary education 40% in 1987. That number had dropped and increasing debt levels are to 16% by 1998. significant factors in the decision students make about whether or not to The withdrawal of public funding and continue their studies beyond high increased cost of post secondary school. Even more significant is the education has had a particularly finding that students from lower detrimental effect on aboriginal income households are much more communities in Canada. likely to be affected by financial issues Unemployment rates and other social when deciding to pursue or not pursue determinants in aboriginal communities their education beyond high school (ii, remain at levels near that of developing 1997). nations. A recent review of post In the face of this mounting crisis the secondary education by the Assembly federal government has taken several of First Nations confirms that funding modest steps to address the problem of and opportunity are being denied to accessibility. Before offering aboriginal Canadians who are least recommendations we will evaluate the likely to afford the increased cost of effect these measures, in particular, the tuition.4 The study focused on the Registered Education Savings Program capping of band funding for post- (RESP) and the Millennium secondary education and the effect that Scholarship Foundation (MSF), are this cap has had on access to education having. for First Nations peoples. In addition, the report points to federal funding cuts In the face of mounting tuition fees and as the primary reason why Canada’s other individualised costs of education, First Nations have been unable to the federal government recently expand the number of institutions extended the Registered Education devoted exclusively to the needs of Savings Program to include a national aboriginal learners. system of grants (Canada Education 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 3
  • 5. Savings Grant-CESG) based on the save for a child’s education and that ability to save. In addition to the 62.6% actually were saving. forgone tax revenue of the original Figure 1. - Post Secondary Aspirations and Savings program, the federal government set % of children whose % of children aside a grant of 20% on the first $2000 parents hope they will whose parents Household attend post secondary are saving for deposited into an RESP. The grant Income institutions their PSE totals $400 per year and continues until <$30,000 79.8 18.7 the year in which the child for whom $30,000-$49,000 85.8 37.4 the account is opened turns 17. $50,000-$59,000 90.6 45.6 The addition of the grants program, $60,000-$79,000 93.4 52.6 along with a cessation of certain $80,000+ 95.0 62.6 restrictions, increased participation in Source: Statistics Canada, The Daily, April 10, 2001 the program dramatically and These numbers confirm the case put represents a significant federal forward by the Canadian Federation of government expenditure on post- Students in our submission to the secondary education. Between 1998 Standing Committee on Finance last and May 2001 the government of year. Through the available data we Canada spent $959,487,905 on direct argued that the RESP program was in grants. This figure does not take into effect a national system of grants for account the cost of administering the the wealthy. The RESP is ostensibly a program or the forgone tax revenue. social program funded by all Canadians Despite this public expenditure the designed to reward those with the participation rates of low and middle means to save. The aforementioned income Canadians are rapidly findings by Statistics Canada confirms declining. Recent data from Statistics this analysis and provides hard data to Canada demonstrates why the federal support the contention that the RESP government is seeing such a poor fiscal and CESG programs are a regressive and social return on this investment. use of public funds that are doing In an April 2001 study, entitled Survey virtually nothing to assist those of Approaches to Educational Canadians most in need of the skills Planning, researchers tracked attitudes and training offered by post-secondary toward saving for a child’s post- education. RESPs merely expand the secondary education as well as the already existing gap in Canada between actual savings families were able to the desire for post-secondary education accumulate. The study controled for and the ability to afford it. It is indeed family income and parental educational perverse public policy to spend public attainment. In homes where the family funds on those who least need income was less than $30,000, 80% of assistance while doing little or nothing parents said they hoped to save funds to help those for whom post-secondary for a child’s education. However, only education remains only a dream. 18.7% of those parents were actually The other policy measure taking up able to save. In homes with family public resources is the Millennium income of over $80,000 researchers Scholarship Foundation (MSF). found that 95% of parents hoped to Enshrined in the 1998 federal budget, 4 Canadian Federation of Students
  • 6. the MSF has had little or no impact on direction of funds would allow the student debt in Canada. Since Finance federal government to provide an up- Minister Paul Martin rose in the House front grant to those most in need of of Commons and promised Canadians financial assistance without adjusting that the MSF would reduce a students’ any current budgetary projections. debt by $12,000 over a four-year Finally, years of under-funding by the program, the MSF has been mired in federal government and provincial public relations gaffes and disputes governments has led to increased with provincial governments. The reliance on the Canada Student Loan complex public/private structure of the Program. As previously noted, student Foundation forced it to enter into debt has skyrocketed to an average of negations with provincial governments $25,000 as students bear the brunt of to disburse approximately $250 million funding shortages. In response to this per year. When these negotiations were increased pressure on the CSLP, the completed it became apparent that federal government has simply some provinces (Nova Scotia and attempted to make the program more Ontario in particular) were simply not restrictive by instituting regressive going to use funds transferred from the policy measures under the guise of MSF to relieve student debt. The accountability. creation of the MSF as a stand-alone body was designed to give the federal In the case of the bankruptcy government a higher profile in the legislation, the federal government is funding of post-secondary education. attempting to address the crisis of Consequently, the MSF has become a student debt by criminalising students. public relations vehicle that is not This unconscionable legislation strips addressing the root problem of student students of the very last financial debt. This, despite an endowment of protection offered under the law. The $2.5 billion over ten years. law introduces a fundamental inequity in the way Canadians are treated under The Canadian Federation of Students is the law. It is this provision that has proposing that the funds currently being compelled the Canadian Federation of expended in the RESP and CESG Students to launch a Charter challenge programs, along with the Millennium before the Superior Court of Ontario to Scholarship Foundation endowment, be repeal this unjust and unconstitutional rolled into a national system of needs law. The provisions of the Bankruptcy based grants. If the program were to be and Insolvency Act are designed to administered through the current needs- offer a last hope to those unable to cope assessment mechanism of the Canada with debt. Under the Act, an individual Student Loan Program (CSLP) it would must appear before a judge and present require no start-up funding and no evidence under oath that their financial increase to administrative costs. In disposition makes it impossible for addition, such a program of needs- them to meet their obligations. based grants would be revenue neutral as we are proposing that it be funded In 1997, the federal government with resources re-directed from the undertook a review of the Act with the RESP and MSF budgets. This re- aim of enacting a two-year prohibition 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 5
  • 7. on declaring bankruptcy. During the Recommendation #3: consultation period the Canadian The federal government should Federation of Students and other groups reverse discriminatory changes to made a compelling case against such a the Bankruptcy and Insolvency prejudicial change. Despite the Act. consensus view that such changes would only lead to misery for those Recommendation #4: most desperate, the federal government The federal government should enacted legislation setting out the two- abandon the practice of doing year prohibition. Less than ten months credit checks on Canada Student later, without consultation or supporting Loan applicants. reasons, the 1998 ‘education’ budget Recommendation #5: legislation extended the ban to ten The federal government should years. As it now seems clear that the enact a Post-Secondary Education Ministry of Finance initiated these Act that enforces national changes, we are calling on the Standing standards of mobility, quality and Committee on Finance to recommend accessibility. that this discriminatory law be repealed. The cumulative effects of diminished funding to post-secondary coupled with RESEARCH: PUBLIC RESEARCH policy initiatives like credit checks for FOR PUBLIC DOLLARS? student loans and changes to the Bank- “At a certain point…we don’t have ruptcy and Insolvency Act have created universities anymore, but outlying a crisis in student debt and additional branches of industry. Then all the accessibility problems for low and things that society turns to the univer- middle income Canadians. New policy sity for––breadth of knowledge, far that individualises the cost of higher time horizons, and independent voice–– education have only exacerbated the are lost.” existing inequities. Successful ways to John Polanyi, Nobel Prize winning chemist address these problems will have to be at the University of Toronto national in scope, and be sensitive to students who are most in need. In the 2001 Speech from the Throne, the federal government committed to Recommendation #1: doubling spending on research and The federal government should development over the next ten years. terminate the RESP program and The announcement continues the trend institute the Canada Student of increased public investment in Grants Program. research. However, recent trends in federal government research policy Recommendation #2: gives rise to several concerns about The federal government should who will benefit from this boom in terminate the Millennium spending. Scholarship Foundation and transfer the funds to the Canada Since freezing funding for Canada’s Student Grants Program. three granting councils in the early and mid 1990’s the federal government has 6 Canadian Federation of Students
  • 8. taken modest steps to re-invest in Two recent examples highlight the public research. In addition to replacing dangers of public/private partnerships. the Medical Research Council with the Both examples are drawn from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, University of Toronto. The story of the the federal government has brought the University of Toronto is an instructive Social Sciences and Humanities example in assessing the cost of public/ Research Council and the Natural private partnerships. The University of Sciences and Engineering Research Toronto has been able to raise a Council back to 1995 levels. staggering amount of money over the past ten years in private and corporate While modestly investmenting in donations. Most of this fundraising public research, the federal government activity has been spurred by the increased funding for the Canada withdrawal of provincial and federal Foundation for Innovation (CFI) by funding and the contemporaneous $900 million. Introduced in the 1997 introduction of public/private budget, the CFI funds research projects partnerships. However, the University that are able to secure 20% - 60% of of Toronto’s success at fundraising has their funding from private industry. been accompanied by a diminishment Under the current scheme, the CFI will of academic and research freedom. only fund projects that are public/ Consider the case of Dr. Nancy private partnerships. Olivieri, a researcher at the University The rapid growth of the CFI has had of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick four detrimental effects on research in Children. Olivieri was contracted by Canada: Apotex, Canada’s largest drug i) The CFI subsidises private, for- manufacturer and one of the University profit research in Canada by of Toronto’s most important donors, to transferring hundreds of millions of test a new drug to treat thalassemia. research dollars to private industry. During the course of her research There is very little public Olivieri discovered several disturbing accountability for the results of side effects of the drug and publicly funded research when kept recommended that the trials be secret for ‘proprietary’ reasons. discontinued, or at least suspended, ii) The institutionalisation of public/ until the risk to her patients could be private research through the CFI is assessed. When Olivieri sought to stifling public research in Canada, publish her results and alert her iii) Public/private partnerships create a patients, she was threatened with legal two tier system of education in action and a smear campaign was Canada with large research organised against her. universities triumphing over What is most disturbing and surprising smaller, generally regionally based, about Dr. Olivieri’s case is not the institutions. behaviour of the drug company but the iv) Humanities funding is falling behaviour of the university. Instead of farther and farther behind other supporting Olivieri in this important academic disciplines like case of public safety versus corporate engineering and computer science. profit, the university attempted to fire 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 7
  • 9. Olivieri and did everything it could to that benefits all of Canadian society. mollify Apotex for fear of losing The CFI and other matching fund funding from Apotex. University of programs have opened a significant gap Toronto President Robert Pritchard between large, well-established went so far as to write a letter to the universities and smaller colleges and federal government in support of universities. Those institutions that Apotex’s call for legislative changes to have a large pool of ‘seed capital’ to generic drug patent laws. Throughout pursue and sustain large corporate the entire controversy, the University of donations are reaping a windfall of Toronto was involved in sensitive public funding. Those universities that negotiations to establish a $20 million may not immediately have the same partnership with Apotex under the appeal to corporate Canada or do not auspices of the CFI. have the infrastructure to undertake The second, and more recent example multi-million dollar campaigns for is the case of Dr. David Healy. Healy is matching funds have no access to this an internationally renowned psychiatric funding. The Canadian Association of researcher. He was offered a position University Business Officers estimates that he accepted with the University of that Canadian universities have a deficit Toronto. Shortly after his appointment, of $3.6 billion in deferred maintenance Healy presented at a conference where costs. Institutions most able to leverage he described a disturbing lack of public funds with private strings research to investigate the potential attached are better able to meet these relationship between Prozac and suicide immediate needs. Those institutions rates. He made his remarks in the that cannot meet these needs are unable context of a paper that raised serious to sustain an innovative research concerns about the ability of large environment. Though some in the post- pharmaceutical companies to drive the secondary education sector have called national research agenda.The for a complex funding formula to University of Toronto immediately compensate for the indirect cost of withdrew its offer of employment to research, the only way to insure that all Healy. Eli Lilly, the company that universities and colleges have equal manufactures Prozac, is a large donor access to public funds is to restore core to the University of Toronto. funding to public universities and colleges. The examples of Dr. Healy and Dr. Olivieri illustrate what is lost when the In the case of the humanities, almost all funding of research is privatised and the of the federal government’s matching public interest becomes secondary to fund programs explicitly exclude the corporate research and public relations. humanities. In addition, the value of Though the federal government has humanities programs is not considered invested more money into research, immediately useful by corporations that Canadian citizens are seeing a poor seek partnerships with universities and return on this investment because colleges. The humanities, unlike almost all of the new funding is science-related disciplines, are subsidising private industry at the chronically under-funded and the expense of research and development current move toward public/private 8 Canadian Federation of Students
  • 10. partnerships ensures that this under- SKILLS AND TRAINING: funding will continue. LIFE-LONG LEARNING FOR ALL? Though the development of the CFI In the most recent speech from the and other matching fund programs throne the federal government ignores and, in some cases, undermines announced its intention to renew the the humanities, the data has never been infrastructure of skills and training in more thorough to demonstrate the Canada. As part of this process, the economic and social benefit of the Canadian Federation of Students humanities. Dr. Robert Allen, a participated in a national roundtable on University of British Columbia skills and learning in Edmonton, March economist, demonstrated that the 21-22. The roundtable, hosted by demand for humanities graduates has Human Resources Development actually outstripped that of science and Minister Jane Stewart, drew engineering graduates. In addition, participants from all regions of the Allen noted the proclivity high-tech country and almost all social sectors firms exhibit for employees with the were represented. The set of final ability to think critically as opposed to recommendations to emerge from the those with primarily technical skills. discussions reflected a clear consensus The diversity and dynamism of the new among the participants. It is in the economy would appear, then, to call for context of the final report of the the retrenchment of funding and national roundtable and the research support for the humanities comprehensive federal report entitled rather than a withdrawal of public Stepping Up: Skills and Opportunities funding. in the Knowledge Economy that we will offer our assessment of the skills and training challenges Canada faces. Recommendation # 6: The dominant theme of the roundtable’s The federal government should final report was twofold. First, that the restructure the CFI in order to federal government needed to play a ensure that matching funds from prominent role in funding and the private sector are not a administering a national skills strategy. condition of public funding for a Such a national approach would research project. In addition, the address the shortcoming of the current federal government should piecemeal approach to skills and double funding for public training. Second, the need for universal research over the next ten years. access to skills and training must form Recommendation # 7: the foundation of any national skills The federal government should strategy. In order to achieve that goal, provide an additional $100 million funding must be restored to Canada’s per annum to the Social Science public colleges and universities. and Humanities Research Council The burgeoning private, for-profit in order to equalise funding with training industry is in no position to the other granting councils. provide solutions to the employment shortages and skills gap that the 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 9
  • 11. Canadian economy faces. Private training, we believe that is important training is generally characterised by that the Employment Insurance exorbitant tuition fees and sub-standard program continue to fund and support instruction that leaves students mired in worker re-training. In addition, we debt and bereft of the skills that drove support the call for Canada to follow them to private trainers. Regrettably, it the lead of most European Union is changes in federal government policy countries and allow the EI program to that is pushing many unemployed and be utilised for training leave. Such a underemployed Canadians to turn to the program would mirror apprentice private training industry. training programs that provide a powerful incentive to develop new In 1996, the federal government skills by providing workers with eliminated the practice of bulk income while they learn. purchases of seats at public institutions as a means of providing re-training to Despite the compelling argument for a unemployed workers. In place of this public solution to the skills and training purchase, unemployed workers now challenges that Canada faces, the receive a voucher that can be used at federal government has contemplated both public and private institutions. The the introduction of Registered new voucher system rarely provides Individual Learning Accounts (RILA). enough funding for the recipient to In the initial stages of discussion, it obtain adequate training. appears that the RILA will replicate all of the inequalities endemic to the RESP At private institutions workers are often program that was outlined earlier in this forced to enter programs that offer brief. Like RESPs, RILAs would neither the quality nor the duration expend significant public resources to necessary to allow them to acquire the assist those who already have the skills needed to participate in the new means to save for an education. Such a economy. This point is particularly program will do nothing to assist those troubling given the fact that Human Canadians who need basic literacy Resources Development Canada’s skills and other forms of training that labour force studies demonstrate that form a pre-requisite for sustainable most of the workers who turn to the employment. federal government for training have been displaced from jobs in the In Britain, where a program similar to resource industry. In addition, the the proposed RILA has been federal government is now quickly implemented, less than 25% of those ceding jurisdiction from training who open a RILA are workers in need through the Employment Insurance Act of basic re-training and skills. In to provincial governments. Though the addition, the RILA program in Britain recent speech from the throne and the has been a boon for the private, for- ongoing work on a major ‘White Paper’ profit training industry. Simply put, the on skills, training and innovation are solution to the skills gap in Canada is hopeful signs that the federal not to be found in repeating the errors government still believes it has an of the RESP and using public funds to important role to play in skills and support those who already have ample 10 Canadian Federation of Students
  • 12. access to skills and training. The experience in Britain demonstrates that Recommendation #10: RILAs act more as a public subsidy for The federal government should business than as means of providing retain juridiction over skills and equal access to skills and training. training and tie its national Under the RILA model public funds strategy to a national system of subsidise the training of employees in needs-based grants. the form of forgone tax revenue and direct grants. In the British example, CONCLUSION most of those who are opening accounts are participating in training programs There is little doubt about the social that previously would have been funded and economic merit of post-secondary by the employer. education. However, public policy decisions taken by the federal Finally, if the federal government is to government in recent years has address the gap between access to skills undermined the vision of access to and the need for those skills among the post-secondary education as a social most economically vulnerable good available to all Canadians. The Canadians it must reverse the recent federal policy trends outlined in this trends in Canada Student Loan Policy brief point to a system of post- outlined above. The implementation of secondary education that determines credit checks and the discriminatory access on the basis of the ability to pay bankruptcy legislation are barriers to rather than merit or need. During the lifelong learning that should have no 1960s and 1970s when participation place in a national skills agenda rates were growing and post secondary designed for all Canadians. education opportunities were expanding, the federal government played a leadership role in ensuring Recommendation # 8: access to education. Indeed, as Finance The federal government should re- Minster Paul Martin suggests, the institute the practice of block federal government is still, at least purchases of seats in public post- rhetorically, devoted to the idea that all secondary institutions with the Canadians should have the opportunity purpose of supplying training to to learn regardless of financial unemployed and underemployed circumstance. workers. Unfortunately, as all the hard data Recommendation #9: attests, access to the skills and The federal government should knowledge offered by post-secondary introduce a training leave program education is quickly becoming a funded through Employment privilege for the wealthy in Canada. In Insurance. Such a program should the face of this mounting challenge the allow workers up to 18 months of federal government has put together a paid leave for training. patchwork of policy initiatives that focus largely on regressive tax credits as inducements to save for education 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 11
  • 13. and increasing ties to private industry. Neither approach has improved the quality or accessibility of Canadian colleges or universities. Accessible, public post-secondary education which is of high quality will require the federal government to re-dedicate itself to the funding necessary to ensure real equality of opportunity. Ultimately, such funding is the only measurable standard and proven solution to ensure that the rhetoric of opportunity for all becomes a reality that offers hope to all. We look forward to presenting these arguments in person this fall. 12 Canadian Federation of Students
  • 14. NOTES 1. Canadian Association of University Teachers, Education Review Vol. 3 No. 3. “The Growing Funding Gap: Government expenditures on post-secondary education, 2000-01.” 2 Canadian Association of University Teachers, Education Review Vol. 2 No. 1. “Out of Reach: Trends in household spending on education in Canada.” 3. Robinson, David & Andrew Jackson, Falling Behind: The state of working Canada, 2000. 4. Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Post Secondary Education Review (August 2000). 2001 Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance 13