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CAUT Bulletin Archives

October 2006

Rushed Process Sidelines Federal Consultations

A federal government sponsored online consultation on post-secondary education is receiving a tepid response from stakeholders.
Announced with little fanfare in August, Human Resources and Social Development Canada undertook the initiative to ask Canadians about the appropriate role and priorities of the federal government in the field, and about ensuring greater accountability for how federal dollars are being spent. The consultation is intended to inform part of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s forthcoming proposal on restoring “fiscal balance.”

Education lobby groups complain the process was too rushed to allow for any meaningful debate about future directions for post-secondary education. Groups were given only 30 days notice to prepare a submission.

CAUT executive director James Turk says he has serious reservations about the process.

“We’re very disappointed about what the federal government has done,” he told the National Post. “It’s claimed to have launched a consultation on the very important subject of post-secondary education. It launched it in August, without any notification of any of the national organizations, and with a 30-day timetable. This is not how any serious consultation is done and we’re concerned about any conclusions federal politicians will draw from such an inadequate process.”

CAUT filed an electronic submission in which it recommended a stronger funding role for Ottawa, but other groups, such as the Association of University and Colleges of Canada, chose not to take part in the online consultations.

AUCC vice-president Robert Best said although his organization didn’t file an electronic brief, it will be participating in the process through “a written report that we will deliver to Human Resources and Social Development Canada and make available to the public.”

At a time when post-secondary educational issues are so important it is vital that the federal government undertake a full and proper consultation, said Turk.