March 23, 2004

Federal budget support for students, research, public health welcomed by McMaster

McMaster Image

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale brings down the federal budget in the House of Commons Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Globe & Mail.

Hamilton, ON - The federal government’s commitment in its budget to boosting financial support for students is welcome news, McMaster University President Peter George says.

“The government’s commitment to improving access to post-secondary education mirrors a fundamental tenet that we follow at McMaster – fostering a passion for lifelong learning,” said President George. “We wholeheartedly support efforts to ensure students who are qualified and have the desire can access post-secondary education. Achievement in university will mean Canada has a highly skilled, educated workforce that will foster a robust and dynamic economy.

“Improving access and helping reduce student debt loads will undoubtedly spur an increase in demand for post-secondary education. The challenge continues to be to ensure that students receive a quality education in an environment where tuition fees—a major source of University operating funds to hire faculty and provide student services—are frozen by the provincial government and operating grants lag well behind the Canadian average.

“We are looking forward to the provincial government acting to ensure that Ontario students truly benefit from these federal initiatives by increasing provincial operating support and providing full compensation for the announced tuition freeze. “

The federal budget, announced in Ottawa Tuesday, called for:

• introducing a new up-front grant of up to $3,000 for first-year post-secondary dependent students from low-income families
• increasing the federal loan ceiling for Canada Student to $210 from $165 a week.
• increasing the matching rate for low and middle income families for the Canada Education Savings Grant
• a new grant of up to $2,000 for eligible students with disabilities
• a new Canada Learning Bond, which will provide up to $2,000 for children born after 2003 in families entitled to the National Child Benefit supplement.

The federal government’s designation of $400 million to public health initiatives is also a positive step, said President George.

“We are here to help move this commitment to enhancing public health ahead,” he said. “McMaster University has great capacity in research and education in this area and our emphasis on collaborative teamwork with experts across the country is unparalleled. We will continue to work with both the federal and provincial governments to ensure McMaster’s internationally recognized expertise in infectious disease and public health is contributing to the protection of the public and improving our capacity to respond when threats arise.”

Other measures introduced in the budget include adding $20 million a year to help Canada’s universities and research hospitals offset the indirect costs of research, adding $90 million annually to the three federal granting councils that support university research and adding $60 million to Genome Canada.

McMaster supports the government’s continuing commitment to economic development founded on strengthening research capacity, linking it to education and training, said President George.

“We are eager to begin working in partnership with the federal government on initiatives in the Hamilton region that would support our manufacturing sector, strengthen the innovative capacity of our industries and help commercialize university research.”