BC Budget 2006 Backgrounder

In her 2006 budget speech Finance Minister Carol Taylor describes how the BC Liberals' fiscal choices are giving priority to education and training. The Minister states that:

"We are allocating $400 million over four years to increase training and skills development, and help more people connect with opportunities." (2006 Budget Speech, page 6)

She also adds that:

"Mr. Speaker, you can see the pattern of government working with industry; government working with educators; government working with communities to directly, proactively and aggressively face the challenge of our skilled labour needs." (2006 Budget Speech, page 9)

Squaring the Minster's supportive comments about the importance of post-secondary education and training with the realities of budget details in the Ministry of Advanced Education's Service plan leaves far more questions than answers. While it is encouraging to see that the government is starting to listen to the needs of the public post-secondary education system, the reality is that very little of the $400 million increase will affect the bottom line funding of public post-secondary institutions over the next twelve months. In fact, total Ministry funding will only increase by about $70 million this year compared to last. That increase does not include additional funding for the Industry Training Authority which is no longer under the Ministry of Advanced Education. It also doesn't include the money allocated for an employer training tax credit.

As you can see from the table below, post-secondary institutions will see only modest increases in their operating budgets. By April 2009 those budgets are projected to increase by about 7.9% over the level budgets for 2005/2006. That works out to an average annual increase of only 2.6%, close to the Ministry of Finance's estimate for the annual rate of inflation.

In terms of per student funding, the Service Plan projects little change over the next three years. Last year's (2005/06) funding level was $8,625 per student. By 2009, it is estimated to be $8,645.

What does the 2006 provincial budget mean for post-secondary educators? At best, the budget shows status quo funding for most public post-secondary institutions with increases equal to those of inflation. The only significant increases are in specific skills areas such as trades training. However, the challenge there will be to ensure that the public post-secondary education system continues to play a critical role in the delivery of that training. As well, the budget indicates that the government is prepared to make changes that will help low-income families. To what extent that will translate into better opportunities in areas like developmental education is still an open question and one in which FPSE will continue to press government for policy change.

 

Item

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

2008/09

Education Institutions and Organizations ($000)

$1,420,697

$1,494,461

$1,529,826

$1,571,669

$1,611,941

Industry Training Authority ($000)

$77,281

$77,281

$90,281

$103,281

$116,281

Student Financial Assistance ($000)

$136,291

$136,440

$158,383

$164,384

$164,384

Debt Servicing ($000)

$246,750

$255,859

$268,161

$295,817

$295,817

Total ($000)

$1,899,935

$1,911,532

$1,981,707

$2,057,207

$2,097,479

Capital Plan, Institutions ($000)

$215,400

$225,700

$267,280

$300,860

$200,000

Student Spaces

166,247

173,263

177,657

182,051

186,445

Per Student Funding

n/a

$8,625

$8,611

$8,633

$8,645


About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.