Facing a challenging economic climate, Minister of Finance Joe Ceci tabled a budget that supports post-secondary education and students in the province, committing $6 billion to the Advanced Education sector and continuing a two-per-cent increase to Campus Alberta operating grants to institutions.
“This government has been supportive of stable and predictable funding for post-secondary education in Alberta and we are pleased that this provincial budget reflects that commitment,” said Elizabeth Cannon, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. “We will continue to work in collaboration with the government to help improve post-secondary education in Alberta both now and for the long-term.”
The continuation of this funding increase is critical to meeting the operational needs of post-secondary institutions in Alberta.
Capital project funding was also addressed in the budget and is essential as the university strives to increase capacity for future students, as well as helping to provide a needed economic boost for the Calgary region. The University of Calgary will receive $262 million over three years starting in 2018-19, in addition to $8 million for planning in 2017-18 for the MacKimmie Complex and Professional Faculties Redevelopment. The university will also receive $52 million allocated for the expansion of the Schulich School of Engineering SSE expansion in 2017-18.
“We are also pleased to see the government honour its commitment towards highly needed capital investments in post-secondary institutions in Alberta,” Cannon said. “As we look towards the next 50 years, capital investments, such as the MacKimmie Complex and Schulich School, will play an integral role in helping provide sustainable, quality teaching, learning and research as well as needed space for our students.”
The Advanced Education sector also received additional Infrastructure Maintenance Program IMP funding, increasing from $101 million in 2016-17 to $154 million this year, and increasing up to $190 million in 2020-21. The increase in infrastructure maintenance funding will provide significant support for much-needed upgrades and repairs to aging infrastructure on campuses including the University of Calgary.
The government also announced $3.6 million allocated in extended financial supports for Campus Alberta mental health programming on post-secondary campuses, which is essential to ensuring students receive the mental health supports they need in their communities, provided by staff that are well-versed in the needs of students.
The government also announced $252 million allocated in 2017-18 for student aid, and $630 million for student loans, an increase of $51 million.
“The University of Calgary is aligned with the government's policy directions and is well positioned to help the government meet its desired outcomes.” Cannon said. “The university is ready to do its part in ensuring access to post-secondary education and in advancing provincial socio-economic development. There is no doubt that 2017-18 will be a challenging fiscal year for Alberta, but in order for the province to advance and diversify its economy, the investments in operating funding, infrastructure and maintenance at the University of Calgary are essential.”