The Government of Alberta released the provincial budget on March 22. The province has continued its support of post-secondary education with a 2% increase to base funding and backfilling for the tuition freeze for another year. It also telegraphed that it intends to continue similar rates of increase for the rest of its mandate.
This approach is consistent with that taken by the government since the last election and with the NDP’s stated policy of insulating the public sector from the boom and bust shocks that have previously characterised the sector’s financing in Alberta. It is also consistent with the conditions that were in effect when we last negotiated with the University.
The details of financing for the Post Secondary sector in this budget also agree with what government officials told the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) in meetings earlier this year. In addition to the “stable and predictable funding” delivered in this budget, we were reminded that
- the government provides operating funds to the University, but does not instruct management as to how those funds should be spent or how to bargain with its employees;
- the provincial government would look very unfavourably on any attempt by employers to force employees into concession through job action.
It is also consistent with a recent statement from the Minister of Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt, in which he criticised the University of Alberta for introducing budget cuts affecting the teaching and research missions of the university despite the government’s emphasis on stable and consistent funding for the sector.