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Reaction to the Quebec budget

Published: 15 Mar 2000

Minister of Education François Legault's elaboration on the Quebec budget provisions for education leads McGill's administrators to a more optimistic outlook.

A statement by Vice-Principal (Academic) Luc Vinet and Vice-Principal (Acting, Administration and Finance) Morty Yalovsky regarding presentation on education sector funding by Minister François Legault

Today’s elaboration on the Quebec budget by Minister of Education François Legault leads us to be more optimistic than we were at first glance yesterday. We welcome the one-time injection of $100 million, in addition to the already committed "Couts de Système" adjustments. These amounts are almost sufficient to absorb the current year’s operating deficits of the Quebec university network.

Of the new $1 billion to be invested, we are pleased to see that $600 million will be allocated to universities. The $120-million portion of the 2000-2001 budget is expected to absorb next year’s operating deficits, while the subsequent years’ increases should allow universities to implement their reinvestment plans. The third year of the budget will provide for $335 million. Despite the magnitude of this amount, we remain concerned that this falls short of the $650 million required annually to permit Quebec universities to be competitive with their Canadian peer institutions. As well, while the government will be investing a considerable amount to help the operations of the universities, significant funding is still required to address the structural deficits of deferred maintenance such as building repairs. We do not know how the proposed budget will address this issue.

The minister has also indicated that an additional $230 million will be available in the system from the millennium scholarship fund. However, there are no details as to how this amount will be distributed.

Minister Legault has emphasized that future funding would be conditional on rigorously satisfying "Contrats de Performance" between the individual universities and the government. This is an initiative we welcome.

In order for Quebec universities to regain competitiveness, the government will need to pay close attention to the recommendations of the committee that was established at the Sommet de la Jeunesse to review and monitor Quebec university revenues relative to their Canadian peers.

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