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February 5, 2004


Throne speech promising — AUCC

The federal government's emphasis in Monday’s speech from the throne on increased access to higher education opportunities and on the development and application of new ideas and knowledge are the right elements in building a 21st century economy, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Universities are heartened by the federal government's recognition that our future economic success depends on ensuring “a continued flow of basic knowledge and highly trained people.” Universities also agree that more must be done to commercialize university research. Success in this area will require both measures to overcome obstacles to commercialization as well as continued and growing government investments in both the direct and indirect costs of university research.

“We’re pleased that the government of Canada recognizes the importance of being a knowledge-rich country, with internationally competitive university research,”said Robert J. Giroux, president of AUCC. “We look forward to working with Canada's new national science advisor to continue to build a national science agenda. We are also very encouraged by the government's commitment in the Throne Speech to apply research and science to help address the most pressing problems of developing countries.”

On the learning front, AUCC applauds the government's plan to introduce a new grant for low-income students in their first year of postsecondary education. As well, measures to increase loan limits in the Canada Student Loans Program, raise family income thresholds, improve loans for part-time students, and create new incentives for savings by lower-income families are also welcome.

These are important measures to enhance accessibility to higher education, as are the government's commitments to improve educational and skills development for Canadians with disabilities and for Aboriginals. At the same time, AUCC says it will be important for the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that universities and colleges have the capacity to respond to the growing demand for quality higher education that these measures will generate.

“We recognize it will take time to work with the provinces and territories to find a solution to the capacity challenge,” said Mr. Giroux. “In the meantime, the federal government can, within its own jurisdiction, make a down payment by providing a full rebate to universities and colleges on the GST they pay — just as it has committed to do for municipalities. This would be an important first step in expanding postsecondary education capacity.”

AUCC is the national organization representing Canada’s 93 public and private not-for-profit university and university-degree level colleges.


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Next issue: February 19, 2003

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