May 11, 2005

Reaction to the Ontario budget

Hamilton, ON - “The province has sent a clear signal that higher education is the cornerstone of Ontario’s future growth and prosperity,” said Peter George, president of McMaster University following today’s budget speech.

The budget included a 35 per cent increase in annual operating grants for postsecondary education beginning with a $683-million increase in 2005/06, and reaching $1.2-billion by 2009/10. In addition, there is a doubling of funding for student assistance, and additional graduate student support, and funding for capital improvement.

“The Bob Rae Report presented a strategic, thoughtful and balanced approach to higher education funding and accountability. Premier McGuinty and Finance Minister Sorbara recognized that we needed a more strategic approach to postsecondary education. They have delivered on their promise to act,” said George.

The budget also made provisions for $10-million to be used to accelerate development of McMaster’s Innovation Park.

George’s comments on other areas of today’s budget are as follows:

Operating Grants
“This is welcome news for students and families,” said George. “At McMaster, the new funding means we can improve the quality of so many areas that are important to students such as course development, smaller classes, more time with faculty. It also means we can develop the support services students need to be successful through their University years and beyond.”

Student Assistance
“Of course students can only benefit from a quality education if they can afford to attend University,” said George. “The province has taken significant steps to making sure that any eligible Ontario student has the financial support to make it happen. Funding bursaries and scholarships is a McMaster priority and the newly announced bursary matching program will allow us to step up our fundraising in support of students in financial need.”

Graduate Education
“It’s clear that if Ontario is going to be a player in the global economy, we need to increase the number of people who pursue a university education not just for undergraduate degrees but for graduate programs as well,” said George. “New funding for graduate scholarships and capital money for graduate programs will help McMaster achieve its goal of having graduate students equal 20% of the University’s total full-time enrolment.”

Medical School Funding
“The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine’s increase in students is allowing us to begin a unique arrangement for distributive education,” said John Kelton, dean and vice-president, Faculty of Health Sciences. “We’ll have students who are able to take much of their medical education in the Niagara peninsula, Kitchener-Waterloo or Brantford areas, rather than just here in Hamilton. This is an excellent initiative by the provincial government to address the physician shortage. Studies show many physicians will settle in to practice where they learn.
“The exact number of additional students is not yet determined, however, they will join the current class of 138 first-year medical students.”

“A new cancer research program will expand funding and improve coordination of cancer research in Ontario,” says Shoukri.

Deferred Maintenance
“Our students deserve the best teaching, programs and facilities,” said George. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a significant increase in funding for deferred maintenance. For McMaster, it means an additional $8.73-million, which will allow us to accelerate the pace of renovations of classrooms and labs.”

McMaster University, named Canada’s Research University of the Year by Research InfoSource, has world-renowned faculty, and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 23,000, and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries.