University of Calgary

President Cannon ‘surprised, extremely disappointed’ by government budget cutbacks

UToday HomeMarch 8, 2013

Alberta Minister of Finance Doug Horner delivers the province’s 2013 budget in the Legislature on Thursday, March 7. Photo courtesy Government of AlbertaAlberta Minister of Finance Doug Horner delivers the province’s 2013 budget in the Legislature on Thursday, March 7. Photo courtesy Government of AlbertaOn Thursday, March 7, the Government of Alberta tabled the province’s 2013 budget. Treasury Board and Finance Minister Doug Horner delivered what is widely being called a “painful” budget that saw many government program areas cut, with the post-secondary education sector being one of the hardest hit.

“The University of Calgary is surprised and extremely disappointed that the Government of Alberta has made an operating budget cut of 6.8 per cent to the post-secondary sector,” says President Elizabeth Cannon. “This is a nine per cent reduction, given the previous pledge by the government for a two per cent increase this year.”

Cannon explains this cut will have a serious impact on students, faculty, staff, research and the innovation system in Alberta – as well as the long-term future of our province.

The university’s executive and senior leadership team is reviewing the budget in detail and will work with the Government of Alberta in the coming weeks to understand the specific impacts on the university.

“At the University of Calgary we have built a strong financial foundation due to the hard work of many people over the last several years,” says Cannon. “We have contingency funding set aside, and we will continue to work to find operational efficiencies and grow revenue. We will continue to move toward our Eyes High goals. Nevertheless, a budget reduction of this size means that we have some difficult decisions to make in the coming months.

“We know students, faculty and staff will have many questions about what these cuts mean to the university. We simply do not have all the answers yet. We will keep you informed over the coming weeks, including holding Town Halls for the campus community later this month.”

Adds Cannon: “Given the level of this cut, and the government’s clear focus on post-secondary institutions working more closely with each other and with government to find efficiencies, eliminate duplication and more closely align university research with the economic agenda of the province, structural change may be necessary within the post-secondary system.”

The Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education budget for all post-secondary institutions also included:

Capital funding

  • The 2013 - 2016 Capital Plan will invest $282 million over the next three years to support five new post-secondary construction projects across Alberta. This funding envelope includes $40 million for our Schulich School of Engineering renovation and expansion project, committed in 2015-16. The University of Calgary requires $142.5 million from government for the project, and it will work with province to make a decision on next steps as soon as possible. The university remains optimistic that the total funding for the building will be forthcoming, but several years later than expected.
  • Infrastructure Maintenance Program funding decreases from $76 million last year to $48.7 million this year across the sector – a reduction of 36 per cent. Out of this, the University of Calgary will receive about $10 million, approximately $6 million less than last year.

Research

  • A funding cut to Alberta Innovates corporations from $137 million to $132 million – a reduction of 3.7 per cent.
  • A new umbrella organization will be created to “foster collaboration throughout the post-secondary education, research, innovation and technology-commercialization systems. The new institution will focus on energy and the environment, health, agriculture and food, and water,” according to the government.
  • Funding for research and innovation within the department of Agriculture and Rural Development was increases from $21 million to $22.2 million.

Student Assistance

  • The Summer-Temporary Employment Program (STEP) has been suspended indefinitely.
  • Funding for student scholarships remains at $71 million for 38,000 students.
  • The Access to the Future Fund continues to be suspended for another three years. The government say the program will be reviewed in the near future.

Health

  • Alberta Health Services receives an increase of three per cent to $17.1 billion.
  • The University of Calgary will work with government to understand the detailed implications from the budget for the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Nursing.

The university will keep the community informed as we learn more. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to attend the town halls, which will be led by Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic) and Jake Gebert, vice-president (finance and services.) President Elizabeth Cannon will also participate. The town halls will be webcast for those who can’t attend in person.

Thursday, March 21
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
New location: Sciences Theatres 135

Wednesday, March 27
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Dining Centre, Blue Room

 

Key documents related to 2013 Alberta budget:

Full text of Finance Minister Doug Horner’s budget speech
Government of Alberta press release announcing the 2013 budget
Government of Alberta press release on education funding
Government of Alberta operational plan for revenue, operating expenses
Government of Alberta capital plan for spending, financing

 

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