Published by Senator Wilfred P. Moore on 11 October 2007
I write to complete the record stated by Monte Solberg, minister of human resources and social development, in his recent letter to the editor.
He wrote that in Budget 2007, his Conservative government announced a 40 per cent increase in the transfers to the provinces for post - secondary education. He went on to say, "We're proud of our record and making sure Canadians have access to the post - secondary education they want and deserve."
Mr. Solberg neglected to mention that his Conservative government has changed the basis of the transfers to the provinces from an equity-based formula to a per capita basis. The result is that Nova Scotia will receive $28 million less than it would have under the equity formula. While we receive an additional $6.5 million under the new formula, Mr. Solberg's province of Alberta receives $344 million. So, over the next 10 years, Nova Scotia will receive $65 million, while Alberta will get $3.44 billion.
Our post - secondary system, already underfunded, will now be starved of more federal funding due to this move to per capita distribution. We are well aware in Nova Scotia of the value of post - secondary education and what it means for the participation of this province in the knowledge-based economy which is transforming our world. The per capita formula serves only to further widen the financial gulf that exists between regions in this country. This funding policy is simply insidious.
I have asked the Conservative minister in the Senate to provide the department report recommending this change in formula and the impact of same. I have received no answer. I have asked the Conservative minister in the Senate to provide the department report showing Alberta's dire straits and its need for $3.44 billion. I have received no answer.
How do our excellent universities compete against such an unfair transfer? With such an economic advantage, Alberta may steal away our best students, professors, researchers and administrators. Are we all to go to Alberta for a post - secondary education?
Clearly, the Harper Conservative government has not ensured that Canadians, particularly Nova Scotians, have access to the post - secondary education they want and deserve.
Wilfred P. Moore, QC, is a Liberal senator for Nova Scotia.