By Rob South
Student leaders are quite pleased with the Oct. 18 Economic Statement and Budget Update from federal Finance Minister Paul Martin.
Included in the $100 billion in tax cuts over the next five years is a doubling of the education amount which can be claimed on tax returns. The government estimates this initiative will save 1 million students $1 billion dollars over the next five years.
"It will certainly contribute to improving students’ financial situation," said University of Calgary Students’ Union Vice-president External Duncan Wojtaszek. "This is something the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations has been lobbying for. We paid extra attention to the issue this year."
The budget also included the $23.4 billion in additional Canada Health and Social Transfer funding which the federal government promised to the provinces over the next five years. CHST funding is used by provinces to help pay for health care, post-secondary education and social programs.
Lastly the federal government committed $500 million to the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s infrastructure program.
Money from this program will go to universities and colleges across the country to rebuild crumbling infrastructure.
"These initiatives finally mark the beginning of a real commitment to Canada’s most valuable renewable resource: the minds of our nation’s students," said CASA National Director Mark Kissel. "We look forward to seeing the federal government maintain and strengthen this commitment through future initiatives."
However, Wojtaszek questioned the motivation of the initiatives.
"The mini-budget was a move by the Liberal government to secure votes for the upcoming election," said Wojtaszek. "I am pleased to see the Liberals courting students as voters, but I question if it is good governance or just vote buying."