Thursday, January 05, 2006

Promises, promises.

Election promises are good for nothing but a few laughs.

A Liberal federal government would pay half the tuition for students in their first and last years of post-secondary education, Paul Martin announced on Thursday.

The "50-50" plan, which would pay a maximum of $3,000 in each of those two years for students enrolled in a Canadian college or university, is part of the Liberals' training and education platform.

"Our world is changing; it is growing more competitive. Tomorrow, as today, a quality education and the right training will be the keys to success," Martin said.

Speaking in Waterloo, Ont., Martin said students entering their first year of college or university in the fall of 2007 would be eligible to have half their tuition paid.

More at the C.B.C..

To take care of the financially deserving students, the Liberals have promised to allow Canada Access grants to be awarded during each of the four years of an individual's undergraduate career--this, I think, is a good thing.

However, the offer to pay part of students' tuition is fundamentally flawed, as it benefits only those students who are working on their first degree or diploma. It does nothing to benefit those of us who, generally, see higher, deregulated tuition fees--those of us who are working on masters or doctoral degrees, law degrees, medical degrees, et cetera.

Furthermore, as far as I can tell (prove me wrong, Liberal Party of Canada!), there are no provisions to ensure that the government assistance is limited to academically deserving students. True, education is never a waste of money; funding students who don't bother to attend class is.

Rather than risk squandering taxpayers' money, why not roll-back tuition fees and impose an extended, nation-wide tuition cap? I understand that this is the jurisdiction of the provincial governments, but the federal government provides some post-secondary education funding in the transfer payments it doles out to the provinces. Perhaps a more confidence-inspiring promise, then, would include financial incentives to provincial governments that reduce and cap tuition?

It would be nice to see a little more creative thinking where government initiatives supporting post-secondary education are concerned. This goes for the provincial governments, too. (And what about greater transparency during the process of allotting federal transfer payment monies to their promised destination?)

Most important, though, all the talk needs to end. Only action might stifle the laughter of cynical voters.

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