Despite welcomed commitments to expanded public services, including pharma care and dental, investment in post-secondary education was notably absent in the federal Liberal government’s 2022 budget.
The few commitments made in the sector were in research and development, although notably the focus was more on development than research. As the investments made to basic research through the tri-agencies in Budget 2018 are set to expire in 2023, it is concerning that the research investments in this budget were small, limited to the STEM field, not investigator-led, and emphasized short-term commercialization.
The NDP government’s latest budget promised the creation of over one million jobs in the next decade, with almost 80 per cent of them requiring post-secondary education or training. The province is investing $2.6 billion towards Advanced Education and Skills Training—a 1.4 per cent increase over the updated forecast from the current fiscal year.
The BC budget also announced the following:
- $25 million in 2022-2023 to expand training for health care assistants;
- $8 million to expand the dual credit program to 150 students and to create 130 more training seats to increase the number of early childhood educators; and
- $21 million over three years to create trades training seats, expand targeted programs to support uncertified workers to become apprentices or obtain certifications, and engage in monitoring and compliance activities at worksites.
Leading up to the 2022 budget, the UCP government made drastic cuts to post-secondary education and signalled it would cut 20 per cent from the sector over the course of its term as government.
Budget 2022 committed $171 million over three years in funding to expand enrolment by 7,000 students in technology, agriculture, financial services, and aviation programs. While this investment is large, it is highly targeted and only partially offsets previous cuts to the sector. The funding is also likely to be linked to performance metrics, and funding per student is still slated to fall.
Other highlights include:
- $8 million over two years to fund skills training through microcredentials;
- $6 million over three years to support work integrated learning placements;
- $30 million for enhancing apprenticeship programs;• $12 million over three years for existing scholarships;
- $15 million over three years for new bursaries for low-income students in qualified, high-demand programs; and
- $59 million to expand the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary.
Funding for post-secondary education remained largely stagnant in the Saskatchewan Party’s budget, with an overall increase of 0.9% to the sector—although, for reasons that are not explained by the government, universities and federated and affiliated colleges saw a $1.5 million decrease to funding.
The budget also included:
- 4.9 million to expand nursing enrollments by 150 students;
- A decrease in funding (1.6 per cent) for student support; and
- $31 million for capital projects and preventative maintenance and renewal.
Like Saskatchewan, Manitoba’s PC government released a budget with stagnant funding for post-secondary education (seeing a negligible 0.3% increase), and student supports were cut by $2.5 million dollars (a 3.6% decrease). No other programs or funds were promised for the sector.
The Ontario PC’s budget estimated they spent $685 million less on post-secondary education than promised in 2021-22 and failed to provide any sector-wide investment for this year. They did not reverse previous cuts, including those made to student support programs. The budget promised three targeted investments:
- $124.4 million over 3 years to modernize clinical education for nurses by expanding laboratory capacity supports and hands-on learning for students;
- $42.5 million over two years (beginning in 2023–24) to support the expansion of undergraduate enrollment (160 students) and postgraduate medical education and training (295 postgraduate positions);
- investing $9 million over three years to support the nine Indigenous governed and operated Institutes.
In Quebec, the budget included additional investments of $1.2 billion in operational funding for universities. The government also provided $342 million over five years to improve financial assistance programs for students, including raising the parent income threshold for loans and bursaries, and eliminating interest on student loans for an additional year.
Planned investments by 2026-2027 include:
- $238.8 million to promote regional student mobility;
- 131.9 million to support the digital transformation of higher education;
- $18.8 million to improve continuing education at the college level; and
- $5.7 million to better meet the needs of Indigenous students.
The Progressive Conservative government in New Brunswick failed to mention post-secondary education, universities, or colleges in its budget address and in the government’s press release. Budget documents showed an increase to post-secondary spending of $5.3 million—or a 1.1 per cent increase.
The PC government in Nova Scotia aligned its post-secondary education budgetary commitments with the five-year memorandum of understanding signed in 2019, providing universities a funding increase of $3.7 million. The budget also committed to:
- $1.3 million to support post-secondary students with accessibility needs;
- $3.2 million to add 200 nursing student enrollments; and
- The More Opportunities for Skilled Trades program, which will return provincial personal income tax paid on the first $50,000 of earning for eligible people under the age of 30.
Prince Edward Island
The PC government in PEI promised a two per cent funding increase for the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), Holland College, and Collège de l'Île. Additional commitments included an increase of $400 per student for the George Coles Bursary, and $675,000 for UPEI for the creation of the new Faculty of Indigenous Knowledge, Education, Research, and Applied Studies.
Newfoundland and Labrador
With the planned phase out of the annual tuition offset announced in the 2021 budget, this year’s budget began reducing funding for Memorial University (approximately $8 million this year) where tuitions fees are set to double starting in Fall 2022. The Liberal government’s budget also included funding for these commitments:
- $3 million to increase the number of enrollments in Memorial University's Nursing Program by 25 per cent;
- $2.5 million to increase the number of enrollments in the personal care attendant, practical nursing, paramedicine and other health programs at the College of the North Atlantic; and
- $2.6 million for a new film and production program for the College of the North Atlantic.