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How Canada's Universities Contribute to Economic Recovery & Long-Term Prosperity
Canadians have just experienced one of our toughest years in memory. Long-held beliefs about economic and social prospects for ourselves and our families have been challenged. At the same time, impending demographic changes will generate new challenges to Canada’s economic growth and make innovation and productivity even more important than they are today.
The federal government and many provinces are running deficits as they provide vital economic stimulus to help Canadians weather the economic downturn. One economic stimulus measure that has been
especially effective at creating jobs in the short-term and that will lead to productivity gains in the long-term is the more than $4 billion that the federal government, the provinces and other partners have invested in the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. Ninety-seven percent of the funds for this program are allocated and projects are underway. Through this program, universities across Canada are creating jobs by building new research facilities and modernizing old ones. Many are using cutting-edge technologies that will improve energy efficiency on campus, reduce universities’ carbon footprints and improve the environment. AUCC’s 94 members, in communities across the country, are doing their part to position Canada for a return to economic growth.
Universities have also been impacted by the global downturn. They are making tough decisions to ensure they are able to deliver high quality education and world-class research to benefit their communities.
Canadians expect more from government and from all public institutions – universities are willing and able to do more.
Developing the skills, talent, creativity and innovative capacity of Canadians is the best way to promote long-term productivity, economic growth, social advancement and prosperity. The university community is united in its view that enhancing investments in university-based research, international student recruitment and Aboriginal university education can help Canada return to economic growth more quickly, and improve Canada’s competitive position in the global economy.
Now is the time to make the investments that will better enable Canadians to return to economic growth and to prepare for the economy and society of the future. AUCC recommends that the federal government:
• Significantly increase investments in university research through key granting agencies’ programs. These investments would increase the core budgets of the research granting agencies and enhance the Indirect Costs Program, in order to support researchers, the development of new talent, and partnerships within Canada and internationally. Annual investments of $400 million in each of the next two years, with increases of $250 million in each of the subsequent three years, will greatly enhance Canada’s capacity to develop ideas and talent and to innovate.
• Invest in an international student recruitment strategy including targeted marketing activities that will promote the excellence of Canada’s universities to potential students abroad. An appropriate level of investment would be $20 million per year for five years.
• Expand university education opportunities for Aboriginal Canadians by increasing financial support to Aboriginal students, investing in university programs and services which support Aboriginal students and establishing a pilot project fund that will see universities partner with Aboriginal communities to help raise K-12 completion rates. For the first year of these efforts, $65 million in new funding is recommended, with increases of $55 million in each of the following four years.
(For more information on this article, visit http://www.aucc.ca/_pdf/english/reports/2009/prebudget_08_14_e.pdf )