News in brief

Provincial budget: ‘not good enough’

The new Ontario provincial budget was released yesterday by Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan.

The budget includes $780 million for post-secondary institutions as well as $150 million in one-time subsidies for colleges and universities.

It also includes provisions for improved investments in summer jobs and co-op tax credits to promote student employment.

AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Matthew Lombardi said he sees the budget as a mixed blessing.

“We’re very happily surprised by the $150 million aimed at operations funding,” Lombardi said, adding that he’s disappointed there’s no commitment made to reducing student debt. The budget includes no improvements to OSAP, the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

“The investment in summer jobs is a good start,” Lombardi said. “We’re hoping that this budget is a first step toward renewing the Reaching Higher plan.”

The Reaching Higher plan, which provided financial assistance to students and institutions, began in 2005 and expires in 2010.

Lombardi said the accessibility of post-secondary education should be a higher priority.

“Every willing or qualified student should be able to pay for university one way or another.”

Lombardi said he hopes the $150 million in operations funding will help ease some of the burden of recent cuts.

“We’re hoping that that will go a long way toward preventing the worst case scenario,” he said, referring to recent cuts to departments.

“Our bottom line with this budget is that it’s good but not good enough.”

—Lauren Miles

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