Recently, the Alberta government announced it will be returning $50 million of the $147 million cut from the post-secondary education back in March.
Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk deserves props for going to the Treasury Board and finding the extra money that allowed the partial refund to be made.
Unfortunately, the reversal is too little too late.
These budget cuts were announced in March and as soon as they were, the post-secondary institutions began making cuts of their own to make their own budgets work.
As a result, many post-secondary institutions across the province eliminated or suspended programs and courses. Now that we are nearly done the first semester of the school year, it’s unlikely that many of these decisions made by Alberta’s post-secondary institutions will be able to be reversed.
Also, $50 million is just over a third of the original cuts made by the Alberta government. What really would have been nice would be if the government hadn’t cut any of the $147 million in the first place.
In fact, those cuts never should have been made in the first place, considering Premier Alison Redford’s election promise to increase spending on post-secondary education rather than cut it.
Sure, a little is better than nothing and it’s better late than never, but that doesn’t change the fact that Redford broke her promise and this feeble attempt at an apology still doesn’t change much.
It’s a welcome reversal, but one that does not at all fool the people of Alberta. It’s clear that this gesture by Redford’s government is an effort to save face and little more.
Two months ago in its Sept. 19 edition, when the post-secondary students were feeling the brunt of the cuts made by the provincial government were just falling back into their school routines, the Lacombe Express ran an editorial examining how today’s post-secondary graduates are faced with higher debts than those of generations before.
Cuts like these do not help with that predicament.
Instead, they mean that the post-secondary institutions transfer the loss of funding onto the student. This means that students, already paying absurdly high tuition fees that add to their already mountainous debt, are forced to pay more.
It is too late for the $50 million partial refund to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to do much good now. However, one can hope that this money will be used by institutions to prevent further strain on Alberta’s students in the future.
Let us also hope that Alberta’s government follows suit and does the same by making good on its promise to increase spending on post-secondary education. Again, it would be better late than never.