Pre-election mini-budget puts tax cuts over the needs of PSE
OTTAWA – Finance Minister Ralph Goodale gets a C-minus grade for his pre-election mini-budget, said the head of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Mr. Goodale gets fair marks for taking small steps to address the infrastructure crisis in universities,” said Paul Moist, CUPE national president. “But while these funds are welcomed, the amount is very small in relation to the actual infrastructure needs of colleges and universities.”
“Overall, a C-minus, which won’t get you into grad school,” Moist said.
CUPE’s recent Campus Check-Up showed that deferred maintenance costs are skyrocketing after years of government under-funding. In Ontario alone, deferred maintenance costs are estimated to be over $1.5 billion for universities but the mini-budget allotted only $1 billion for “urgent investments” nation-wide.
The increases to the low-income grant introduced in the mini-budget are long overdue, but if tuition fees are allowed to increase, the ability of this grant to improve access will be undercut.
“The modest improvements to grants and loans will be wiped out by the disturbing trend of tuition deregulation,” Moist said. “The situation is even worse for international students.”
Tuition fees have more than doubled over the past 10 years as a direct result of federal cuts to post-secondary education funding, which is now near a 25-year low when measured as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Moist said the increases to federal granting councils and direct support to universities are positive. However, millions of dollars have been marked for indirect subsidies to private corporations and further push our public universities towards commercialization and privatization.
An EKOS Research poll released the same day as the mini-budget found that 50 per cent of voters rank social issues such as education, health, poverty and environment as the most important issues for the next election, but only 13 per cent of the money under the mini-budget is marked for those areas. Only 12 per cent of voters identified tax and debt relief as the most important issues, but over 80 per cent of the money in this plan is for tax cuts and debt repayment.
Paul Moist, National President, cell (613) 558-2873; Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer, (porte-parole francophone) cell (514) 884-5074; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431