AUCC’s election strategy has three key components: collecting and disseminating information on the five main parties’ positions with respect to higher education and research in Canada; securing commitments favourable to the higher education community from party leaders and local candidates of all parties; raising public awareness of the importance of higher education and research to the future of Canada.
For our election efforts, AUCC has chosen to emphasize two critical higher education issues in particular: namely, student assistance and research.
On the issue of student assistance, we will emphasize the following key messages:
- The best ticket to opportunity for young Canadians is access to learning. University graduates have an unemployment rate which is half that of the population as a whole.
- By maintaining and enhancing its investment in student aid, the federal government can play a major role in ensuring fairness, equity and opportunity for Canadians regardless of their economic circumstances or geographical background.
- For three decades, the federal government has been helping hundreds of thousands of Canadians on their road to success with the Canada Student Loan Program. However, a new challenge has recently arisen in student aid: rising student debt.
- The federal government could play a leadership role in accessibility to education by building on the present Canada Student Loan Program and the measures recently announced in the February 18th budget to introduce a package of targeted measures to alleviate student indebtedness, including up-front grants, deferred grants (e.g. income-based remissions, or enhanced interest relief) and improved job opportunities for students, as described in Renewing Student Assistance in Canada.
On the issue of enhancing Canada’s research capability, we will emphasize the following points:
- To sustain itself as an innovative society, Canada must produce a steady stream of new ideas, a well-educated workforce and have mechanisms for the effective flow of knowledge between partners in our national system of innovation.
- However, Canada cannot rely solely on enhancing the productivity of its existing R&D investments; it must also expand the scope of its R&D efforts as a whole in the private, public and non-governmental sectors.
- We need to build on the excellent measures on research in the last federal budget if we are to truly foster innovation and ensure that our best and brightest scientists remain in Canada.
- The federal government must renew its commitment to increase the overall research effort with support programs directed at promoting research careers and knowledge transfer and ensure the health of the research base by gradually increasing the base budgets of the three federal granting councils.
- Social Science and Humanities research is integral to Canada’s research effort, to the country’s competitiveness and to how we develop as a society. The federal government must work in partnership with universities across the country to transfer this knowledge from universities into our communities to help community groups address a range of social problems and opportunities.
Wherever possible, AUCC will work with our partner organizations at the national level to raise the profile of higher education and research issues during the election campaign.