Volume 11, Number 6 October 31, 2003

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Saskatchewan ELECTION 2003

The three political parties put forward their views on post-secondary education.

On Campus News asked three questions of each party leader as they campaign for the Nov. 5 election. Only the New Democratic Party responded. Text for the Liberal Party and Saskatchewan Party has been taken from their published platform documents

New Democratic Party

Lorne Calvert, Leader

Lorne Calvert, Leader

OCN: What would your party do, as government, to improve the provision of scholarship and bursary funding for University of Saskatchewan students?

The NDP has a comprehensive CareerStart plan to meet the future skill and leadership demands of our province by ensuring accessible and affordable post-secondary education for Saskatchewan young people.

We will expand the Saskatchewan Bursary Program. A $9 million enhancement will increase the number of students who qualify for the program and increase the size of individual bursaries. The result will be a reduction in student loan debt by an average of about $800 per student for more than 10,000 students each year. In addition, we will provide 600 bursaries for nursing students and other health professionals in return for a commitment to apply their new skills in the province.

We're building on the success of the Centennial Merit Scholarship Program, which cost-shares scholarships with our post-secondary institutions and other sponsors. Provincial funding will be increased significantly from $500,000 to $2 million each year. Much of the increase will be targeted to encourage more students to attain graduate degrees in Saskatchewan.

Expanded co-op education programs and mentoring opportunities within our Crown corporations will increase "earn while you learn" opportunities.

The NDP will assist graduates to establish their careers in Saskatchewan with:

  • a $1,000 provincial tax rebate for all graduates employed in the province in the year after they receive their diploma

  • a one-year, interest free grace period before having to begin student loan repayments.

OCN: How would your party proceed, as government, with the proposed Academic Health Sciences Centre project on the University of Saskatchewan campus?

We have allocated $120 million over the next five to six years to complete planning and construction of the Health Sciences Centre. This is in addition to funding provided for renewal of the U of S College of Medicine.

The new complex will become Canada's most modern centre for health sciences training and research. It will help us attract and retain medical instructors and scientists.

We want to work with the university and federal government to explore the possibility of having the Health Sciences Centre house a national centre for excellence and innovation in rural, northern and Aboriginal health care - areas of medicine in which we are becoming national leaders.

OCN: What does your party see as the role of the University of Saskatchewan in the future economic development of the province?

New Democrats recognize the university's importance in ensuring Saskatchewan's ability to fully participate in the academic, scientific, and research and development life of Canada. This is critical to ensure that Saskatchewan can develop a modern and diversified economy and provide a broad range of career and business opportunities for Saskatchewan people.

During the past four years, we have dramatically increased funding and facilities for Saskatchewan-based research, placing emphasis on research with commercial applications that can be a catalyst to economic expansion. We will renew and expand the Innovation and Science Fund, which has been particularly successful in leveraging increased federal and private sector funding for research at the U of S.

Our support for the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron and Innovation Place put the University of Saskatchewan in a strong position to increase its role in industrial, agricultural, medical and environmental research. These facilities will also help the university increase the number of graduate students and retain its leading academic and research personnel.

Liberal Party

David Karwacki, Leader

David Karwacki, Leader

Our universities, colleges and technical schools are essential to creating citizens, and also to ensuring Saskatchewan can compete in the new knowledge-based economy. We need to ensure that our universities and technical schools are some of the most distinguished post-secondary institutions in Canada and the world.

Our priorities include networking between research institutes and small business. In order to bring focus to this participation, Saskatchewan Liberals are committed to:

  • ensure that priority is given to a technology transfer component to the extension division, and continuing skills transfer office at our technical schools.

  • work with our universities to establish a university chair to mentor entrepreneurs to bridge between the research and business. For example, we would provide seed funding to establish a Discovery Commercialization MBA with a B.Sc. prerequisite.

We must ensure that our Aboriginal population is well educated and prepared to enter into the workforce as they are an important factor in expanding our economic base. We must demand that the federal government remove the cap on post-secondary placement for First Nations people and Bands.

The Aboriginal population will benefit greatly from getting equal access to education, so they are able to be full participants in the economic and social life of our province. Also, our First Nations people have a real sense of belonging with the land. We must enhance this natural strength by making the university a centre for Great Plains research, and also explore the scientific richness of the boreal forest.

We want to ensure our provincial post-secondary institutions remain accessible to all, based on merit, not ability to pay. Therefore, Saskatchewan Liberals make the commitment to benchmark tuition fees, on average, to remain at 30% of overall operating costs of our universities.

Student recruitment and retention of those who complete undergraduate programs has become a serious issue in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Liberals will forgive undergraduate student loans through a tax credit of their cumulative tuition over a four-year work residency period, if they remain in the province. This tax credit would apply for a person's first undergraduate degree or diploma or certificate. Such a tax credit would be available for up to a maximum of six years following the last year of graduation. Saskatchewan Liberals believe that post-secondary education students should be considered financially independent one year after having left high school.

Competition for new faculty at both universities and technical schools is going to increase in the next decade. We must provide our universities and technical schools the recruitment tools they require to recruit and retain faculty, who will meet the standard of international excellence. One tool, used successfully in Quebec, is to offer income tax incentives for internationally competitive teaching and research positions to attract and retain faculty.

One inexpensive way to attract future faculty is to assist with full doctoral fellowships for four years, and match dollar for dollar any private sector donations for this purpose in order to offer full doctoral fellowships.

Our universities have been chronically underfunded. We need to develop matching funds for Canada Research Chairs; provide seed money for NSERC and SSHRC and CIHR grants through a Saskatchewan Foundation for Innovation, and allow for national peer review of provincial research. Then, our provincial researchers.

Saskatchewan is well-known as a pioneering centre for public health. To benefit from that reputation, a health sciences industry cluster would be a natural fit at the U of S. Specifically, Saskatchewan Liberals see the opportunity for a partnership for a national Centre for Disease Control. Saskatchewan Liberals would commit to providing seed funds to pursue this project.

In addition to striving for excellence in certain research areas, government must also re-dedicate itself to being a stable source of funding for the Universities' and technical schools operating budget.

Saskatchewan Liberals will allow for marked differentiation between our two Saskatchewan universities, and allow our universities to differentiate themselves from other international institutions.

To provide graduate students with career experience, to give them greater incentive to make Saskatchewan their career location of choice, and also to assist with financing of their education, we will provide seed financing to develop a robust co-op education model with a special focus on engineering and computer science.

Saskatchewan Party

Elwin Hermanson, Leader

Elwin Hermanson, Leader

The Saskatchewan Party plan to grow Saskatchewan by 100,000 people in ten years means more students and a growing tax base that will enable the province to invest in education while keeping tax rates low.

Growing Saskatchewan by 100,000 people will create the opportunity to invest in the renewal of educational facilities, develop a comprehensive province-wide distance education system, and ensure students have access to the post-secondary educational opportunities they need to work in the new knowledge-based economy.

In Post Secondary Education, a Saskatchewan Party government will:

  • Increase operating funding to Saskatchewan's universities, SIAST and regional colleges by 5% per year over four years;

  • Invest $100 million in a new Health Sciences Facility at the University of Saskatchewan to provide state-of-the-art medical research opportunities and more training spots for much-needed doctors, nurses and other health care professionals;

  • Offer graduating post-secondary students who choose to live and work in Saskatchewan the lowest income taxes in Canada by cutting their provincial income taxes by up to $1,050 per year for up to four years after graduation. Graduating post-secondary students will receive a provincial income tax cut of between $770 and $1,050 per year for up to four years after graduation.

    That's in addition to the $10,000 basic personal exemption that every person in Saskatchewan will receive under our provincial income tax reduction plan. When fully implemented, post-secondary graduates who choose to work and live in Saskatchewan will pay no provincial income tax on their first $17,000 of income for four years. That's more than double the $8,000 exemption that the NDP has in place today. Under the Saskatchewan Party plan, graduating post-secondary students who choose to live and work in Saskatchewan will pay the lowest income tax rates in Canada!

  • Remodel the Saskatchewan Student Loan Program to ensure the children of middle-income families have access to student loans;

  • Expand on-line university and college course programming to facilitate more post-secondary learning opportunities close to the student's home community and to increase the post-secondary options available to full-time workers and students with disabilities;

  • Work with business, industry and labour to share the costs of post-secondary and skills-training programs and to ensure graduating students are equipped to work in the new knowledge-based economy; and

  • Link educational institutions with private sector employers to ensure graduating students have the skill set necessary to work successfully in the new knowledge-based economy.

In addition, a Saskatchewan Party government will:

  • Invest $100 million to build a new state-of-the-art integrated health science facility at the University of Saskatchewan to help attract and retain doctors, nurses and other health care providers;

  • Add 240 new nurse training seats and increase the overall number of training seats to address the growing shortage of health care professionals;

  • Support the creation of a dedicated light beam for advanced medical research at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon at the University of Saskatchewan.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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