Last year when Alison Redford became premier of Alberta she visited Mount Royal University and promised $650 million in funding for post-secondary education. One year later the reality is COMPLETELY different.
There have been significant cuts made to the budgets in post secondary education. This means that all 26 post secondary institutes have decisions to make. Difficult, life-changing (for some) decisions.
Programs at some institutions have been cut already and there are more cuts to come before the final budgets are complete by the end of June.
Mount Royal was affected to the tune of 14 million dollars. They have announced the termination of disability studies, music performance and theatre arts diploma programs, along with the forensics, journalism, perinatal care and aging studies certificate programs, and an engineering transfer program.
The University of Alberta has been affected to the amount of 65 million dollars over two years.
Lakeland College has cut 60 employees positions.
The mayor of Calgary said this week “I have been on record as saying that the provincial government has made a terrible error in its post-secondary education policy — great cities need great universities and great universities need government support."
I work in a post secondary institute. There have been no announcements made yet on cuts here, but retirement incentives and other incentives have already been offered to those who are willing to leave now. The hammer has yet to fall. We have been assured that there will be no cuts to programs as a result of this budget, which is a great thing but what it means is that the deficit we face will be made up predominantly by cuts to jobs. It is impossible to balance the budget otherwise.
Where the premier and the education minister see dollar amounts I think they miss the bigger picture. The HUMAN picture. The premier has announced that there will be a freeze on tuition for the next year and that the budget will not be met "on the backs of the students". That's a nice idea, however instead of raising the tuition with the cost of living, which is a standard in post secondary institutes, the premier will instead balance the budget on the backs of the post secondary employees who will lose their jobs.
I don't know if I will lose my job. It may be another month before I know. In that one month period I, and my family, and the other hundreds of employees - in my institution and all others in the province AS WELL AS their families will all have to deal with the stress of not knowing. When the announcements are finally made those who are cut from positions have the stress of moving forward.
Insomnia, nausea, eye twitches from not sleeping, irritability, anxiety, heart burn.. heart attack? Will I snap at my son tonight when he breaks something accidentally, but because I am exhausted and stressed out? Will he cry? Will he feel disconnected to me and think I am a mean mom and not someone he wants to trust?
This is just a SMALL idea of the cost to me right now - and to the other employees who are in limbo.
Let's say in a month I lose my job. How will I pay my mortgage? How will I pay ANY of my bills? I live in a VERY small community where the opportunity to find employment at the same rate of pay which I have right now is virtually impossible. So do I move my family? Sell our house? What do I do for medical insurance in the meantime? Where do we go?
The government of Alberta thinks they are saving money, but I say they are wrong. HORRIBLY wrong and disconnected from your constituents. What you are doing has a HUGE cost, the results of which you may not be able to measure right now but which this province will be paying for for a LONG, LONG time. Unfortunately so will we.