University Faculty Respond to BC Fiscal Update

Created 11 September 2017 15:09

Victoria, September 11, 2017 — BC Finance Minister Hon. Carole James provided a fiscal update on the 2017/18 Budget tabled by the Liberals in March. The update provides some insight into BC’s fiscal outlook, along with several new spending commitments by the recently installed NDP government.

“Today’s fiscal update represents an opportunity for BC’s research universities,” said Jim Johnson, President of CUFA BC. “BC’s financial outlook is robust and now is the time for reinvestment. We look forward to further commitments in the 2018/19 Budget”.

The announcements on post-secondary education include enhanced funding for the Therapeutics Initiative at UBC and restoration of free tuition for Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning programs.

“The increased funding and support for the Therapeutics Initiative is very welcome,” said Johnson. “The Therapeutics Initiative is a model of university research conducted in the service of evidenced-based public policy. However, we would also like to see more substantial provincial investment in research”.

The fiscal update includes the announcement of an Innovation Commissioner and an Emerging Economy Task Force. No details were provided, but CUFA BC expects BC’s research universities to be integral to any provincial innovation strategy.

“Innovation is a buzz word that is often reduced to the commercial application of university research. We look forward to working with the new government to ensure that innovation includes a commitment to basic, curiosity-driven research” said Johnson.

No details were provided on the commitment for a $100 million investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs. James noted that further detail will be provided in the February budget.

“We were pleased to see a commitment for enhanced funding of $100 million in the NDP’s campaign platform. We look forward to further details on this commitment in the February budget,” said Johnson. “The past ten years have included a decade of funding cuts and we look forward to a more comprehensive commitment to BC’s research universities. The province is now in a strong fiscal position and we hope the new government does not squander this unique opportunity.”

For further information contact: Michael Conlon, Executive Director, 604-646-4677 (o), 778-994-2616 (c). The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia represents over 5,400 professors, lecturers, instructors, and librarians at the five research intensive universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Victoria, Royal Roads University, and Simon Fraser University.

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