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University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Wednesday, May 7, 1997

Ontario money for research

"Investing in the Future" was the theme of yesterday's Ontario budget, and some of what the provincial government will invest should find its way to the universities. The main feature is a "Research and Development Challenge Fund", on which the province will spend $50 million a year for ten years, under certain conditions.

The Fund is partly tied to the federal government's new Canada Foundation for Innovation, which is expected to provide about 40 per cent of the cost for projects such as laboratory construction and equipment. Yesterday's budget announced that if the private sector will put in one-third of the cost, the province will split the rest with the universities themselves -- that is, it would end up providing 13.5 per cent of the money. The question then becomes, do universities have any money to put into such new efforts?

Excerpts from yesterday's budget speech by the provincial treasurer, Ernie Eves:

The proposed approach distributes research support, not through a block grant, but rather through a process that provides incentives for excellence while at the same time including a market test of research relevance. To participate, universities and other research institutions must match the Provincial contribution in the first year of the Fund. The amount required from participants will rise over the life of the Fund.

The R&D Challenge Fund marks a new, competitively-based approach to research funding. All proposals to the R&D Challenge Fund will have to meet a market test linked directly to future economic growth and job creation, in the form of a one-third contribution from the private sector.

Teaching at the post-secondary level will be enhanced as a result of increased R&D activity and greater exposure to world-class research capabilities. The R&D Challenge Fund will also ensure that Ontario universities are able to compete effectively for funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

This new program will result in a total of $3 billion of R&D in our universities and other research institutions over the next ten years. My colleagues, the Honourable John Snobelen, Minister of Education and Training, together with the Honourable Bill Saunderson, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, will consult on the implementation of the program.

To strengthen Ontario's R&D tax competitiveness and to forge stronger linkages between the private sector and non-profit research institutions in Ontario, I am announcing today the Ontario Business-Research Institute Tax Credit. This credit will provide a 20 per cent refundable tax credit for qualifying business- sponsored R&D performed by eligible Ontario universities, research hospitals and other non-profit research centres.

The budget also offered some other tax changes that affect business and universities, including an extension of last year's tax credit for companies that hire co-op students -- it will now also benefit companies that hire non-co-op students in certain "leading-edge" fields.

There will be a new "Graduate Transition Tax Credit" to encourage companies to hire new graduates. They'll get back 10 per cent of what they pay a new graduate in the first year of employment, to a maximum of $4,000.

And money for scholarships

The treasurer said the government will match the full amount raised by Ontario colleges and universities over the past year for their "Student Opportunity Trust Funds". When the trust fund program was announced last year, the government said it would match whatever private-sector money was collected, and estimated the figure at $100 million.

In fact, colleges and universities brought in some $248 million before the March 31 deadline. UW hasn't announced the total that was raised here, but an article in the Hamilton Spectator the other day, based on Queen's Park figures, said it was $2.7 million.

Eves said yesterday the province will match the whole amount. "It is estimated that these trust funds will assist 166,000 students over the next decade."

He had this to say about future changes to student aid programs:

This Government is committed to assisting students to achieve their educational goals. Funding for the Ontario Student Assistance Program has been increased by more than 25 per cent, or over $100 million, since 1995-96. This year, spending on student assistance will total $505 million.

We are committed to providing appropriate and adequate support for students who need it. This means that student loan support must better reflect the rewards that students realize from public investment in their education.

We are committed to working with the federal government to implement an income contingent student loan program for September, 1998.

That's a year later than had previously been suggested.

And money for infrastructure

Before the budget yesterday, the province announced that it has signed on with the federal government's "infrastructure" program, by which Ottawa, Queen's Park and the universities (as well as other public agencies) will split the cost of some big-ticket projects. There will be $58 million from the province for infrastructure projects in post-secondary education.

"This agreement is a tremendous boost for Ontario universities," said James Downey, UW's president and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, in a COU news release. "Investment in university infrastructure pays immediate dividends by providing jobs in the community and ensuring long-term returns through the renewal of the deteriorating infrastructures that characterize our institutions."

It's all happening in Education Week 1997. "This week we're celebrating the best in Ontario's education system," says provincial education minister John Snobelen.

Acting principal for Renison

Renison College announced last night that Gail Cuthbert Brandt, its principal, will be on sabbatical leave May 1 through December 31, and that Darrol Bryant will be acting principal of the college during that time. A faculty member at Renison since 1973 and a former chair of the department of religious studies, Bryant "has been an active member of a variety of committees at the college and has served on Renison's Board of Governors, the University Senate and Senate Undergraduate Council."

Co-op employment is down

As the spring work term began, 82.26 per cent of co-op students who were looking for jobs had found them, says co-op director Bruce Lumsden. There were 2,856 students with jobs, and 616 still looking. A year ago, for the 1996 spring term, the placement rate was three-quarters of one per cent higher, with 2,789 students in jobs and 571 still looking.

All 93 accounting students who were looking for jobs have them -- but only 209 out of 393 science students. In engineering, the largest faculty for co-op, there are 1,221 employed students and 114 still without jobs for the spring.

"The junior students are still the most vulnerable in the co-op programme," Lumsden writes a memo summarizing the figures. "All these students have been interviewed by CECS staff to ensure that their resumes are current, their skills inventory forms have been completed and that they are keeping in touch with the department for both job leads and employment strategies.

"The overall employment figures for Ontario and Canada are stuck at over 9%. While there are many government initiatives for employing youth during the summer months these initiatives have little effect on co-op employment priorities of industry and business.

"We will continue to explore all possibilities over the next 6-8 weeks to secure employment opportunities for these students."

Also on this spring day

It's the last day to register (in Needles Hall) at the standard price. Late fees begin tomorrow ($10 on Thursday, $13 on Friday, and $3 more each day after that).

The Dorney Garden in environmental studies will have its fourth annual fund-raising plant sale at noontime tomorrow. Perennials, seedlings, house plants, vegetable plants, and other such green things will be for sale. Donations of items for the sale are welcome today, or early tomorrow; call Roger Suffling at ext. 2642 (e-mail rcsuffli@cousteau) for details.

With Mothers' Day approaching, Graphics Express in South Campus Hall is running a special: "Bring in your favourite colour photo and have it transferred -- T-shirts, mouse pads and puzzles are 20% off regular pricing." Another gift possibility would be the "University of Waterloo Mom" sweatshirts on display in the window of the UW Shop, also in SCH.

A group of local high technology companies are jointly operating a "Waterloo Area Job Opportunities" web site at http://www.waterlootechjobs.com.


May 7, 1958: Seagram Stadium and gymnasium, UW's first building, is formally opened

Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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