The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
presents its brief today to the Parliamentary Committee on Education
for the Quality, Accessibility, and Funding of Universities
Government, students, and companies must all contribute
Montreal, March 25, 2004 Today, on behalf of its some 7,000 members, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal presents its brief titled Institutions of Higher Education: A critical issue for the economic engine of Quebec to the Parliamentary Committee on Education for the Quality, Accessibility, and Funding of Universities.
For the Board of Trade, the under-funding of our universities is an extremely troubling situation that must be dealt with immediately and creatively. At a time when the creation of wealth requires the acquisition and innovative application of knowledge, the training of skilled labour is vital. Within this context, it is important to grant institutions of higher education the necessary flexibility and financial means to attract and retain the most highly qualified professors, researchers, and students, declared Benoit Labonté, president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
Since there can be no doubt that a world-class university network is at the heart of the economic competitiveness of metropolitan Montreal, the Board of Trade proposes that all who benefit from the university network government, students, and companies should do their part. The active participation of all these stakeholders is a prerequisite to ensuring the sustainable funding of universities.
It is thus in a spirit of making a positive and responsible contribution that the Board of Trade presents the recommendations outlined in its brief to the Committee today. The Board of Trade proposes that the operating shortfall of Quebec universities, estimated at $375.3 million annually by the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities, be made up as follows:
- Contribution of government: make up half the deficit through an annual investment of an additional $187.7 million, amounting to an increase of just 0.36% of its total budget; ( for more details, see page 8 of the brief );
- Contribution of students: make up the second half of the annual deficit, or $187.7 million, through higher tuition fees. At the same time, it is important that various measures be set in place to guarantee access to higher education for the less well-off. ( for more details, see page 7 of the brief );
- Contribution of companies: become partners with the universities by encouraging employees to donate more to their alma maters and by coordinating the actions of companies in the same sector to support university education and research; become partners with students by making a financial contribution to the repayment of their employees' student loans insofar as these debts would become eligible expenses under the 1% law. Employers could also be encouraged to contribute to the RESP's of the children of their employees ( for more details, see page 8 of the brief ).
In Quebec , the hotbed of high-knowledge economic activity is, without a doubt, metropolitan Montreal . This is due to the presence of a real critical mass in terms of training and university research: four universities on the island of Montreal , four major schools, two faculties of medicine, almost 120,000 students, and 75% of all university research in Quebec . The holding of the Parliamentary Committee on Education for the Quality, Accessibility, and Funding of Universities is an opportunity to rise to the challenges of innovation, productivity, and competitiveness: something that will require everyone to do their part in the funding of universities, concluded Labonté.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of the Greater Montreal region and, as a contributing and responsible player, to promote the economic development of the urban area. Encompassing three specialized services ( Info entreprises , the Electronic Commerce Institute and World Trade Centre Montréal ) that serve merchants and businesses of all sizes throughout Quebec and Canada , the Board of Trade is Quebec 's leading private economic development organization.
Coordinator, Media relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, ext. 4015