08/22/2016 01:00 EDT | Updated 08/22/2016 01:59 EDT

New Education Fund Invests In Saskatchewan's Young People

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The University of Saskatchewan.

There were a lot of smiling faces last Friday among students, faculty and administrators at our two universities in Saskatchewan and at several other institutions of higher learning in this province. Joining them were mayors and councillors, MLAs and MPs, senior government officials at all levels, business people, community leaders and members of the public.

The occasion was the announcement of more than $63 million in federal funding to upgrade the physical condition of post-secondary education institutions in Saskatchewan, and to bolster both the quantity and the quality of the knowledge, science and innovation we are capable of producing. I was delighted to deliver this great news.

Our national economy has been slow and stagnant for most of the past decade. Getting it growing again requires targeted measures.

This new federal funding was earmarked in Justin Trudeau's first budget last March. In a one-time "Strategic Investment Fund for Post-Secondary Institutions," it totals $2 billion nationally over the next two years. The responsible ministers are Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains and Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan.

Applications were submitted in late spring by learning and science institutions across the country. The successful projects in Saskatchewan are among the first to be announced.

Significantly, our federal contributions in this province of just over $63 million will leverage additional funding from other financial partners (i.e., the institutions themselves, provincial governments and the private sector) for a grand total of nearly $137 million invested in Saskatchewan brainpower.

Here's the list:

  • $27,600,000 to the University of Regina to completely rejuvenate its century-old heritage campus along College Avenue to provide top-notch learning and research facilities and a new home for both the Canadian Institute for Science and Innovation Policy and the Johnson-Shoyama School of Graduate Studies.
  • $2,400,000 to the University of Regina to upgrade and modernize its original Laboratory Building on the main campus.
  • 30,170,000 to the University of Saskatchewan to construct a new Collaborative Science Research Building to expand its recognized leadership in bio-sciences of all kinds, including agriculture and the environment.
  • $1,090,000 to St. Thomas More College (UofS) for energy and efficiency upgrades and a big improvement in access to its exceptional research library.
  • $815,000 to St. Peter's College at Muenster (UofS) for a biomass production, harvesting and processing project.
  • $880,000 to Gabriel Dumont Institute at La Loche to expand its local campus and support much needed skills training and basic adult education.
  • $100,000 to Parkland College at Melville to expand its capacity to develop and teach essential emergency fire-fighting skills.
  • $117,500 to Carlton Trail College at Punnichy to expand its capacity for industrial skills training (in the potash sector, for example), especially for Indigenous people.

These federal investments are part of the Government of Canada's core plan to drive greater economic growth and productivity. Our national economy has been slow and stagnant for most of the past decade. Getting it growing again requires targeted measures to bolster the spending power of the middle class and smart investments in the drivers of growth.

We have cut the middle-class tax rate by close to seven per cent. We have also introduced a much-improved Canada Child Benefit to help defray the costs of raising children. Nine out of 10 families will be receiving more federal financial support every month (non-taxable), and some 300,000 kids will be lifted out of poverty.

We have expanded student grants to help close to 400,000 lower- and middle-income young people access post-secondary learning, without adding to student debt. And we're bolstering the pension system for seniors through improvements to old age security, the guaranteed income supplement and the CPP.

We are also making major new investments in community infrastructure, including primary municipal and provincial projects, plus transit services, social infrastructure (things like child-care facilities, seniors centres and affordable housing) and environmental projects that mitigate or adapt to the consequences of climate change.

The $2-billion Strategic Investment Fund for Post Secondary Education is a key part of this overall package to drive growth and productivity. ‎

Projects like those we announced in Saskatchewan last Friday create excellent construction jobs and growth for the immediate term, while building the capacity to generate more and better jobs in the future.

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