Danny Williams’ PSE Legacy
Keith Dunne and I have an opinion piece out on what we consider to be one of the best-kept secrets in Canadian social policy:Â Danny Williams’ post-secondary education (PSE) legacy.Â Among other things, the piece points out that:
-Since 2003, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has increased funding for PSE by 82 percent.
-Average tuition fees for domestic students in Newfoundland and Labrador are now roughly $2,600 per year, which is half the Canadian average.Â (In Ontario, the corresponding figure is just over $6,300.)
-Enrolment in Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university and only community college by students from the other three Atlantic provinces increasedÂ more than tenfold between 2001 and 2008.Â
-Since the late 1990s, the number of people in Newfoundland and Labrador with student debt has decreased from roughly 20,000 to roughly 8,000.
We believe that Newfoundland and Labrador’s experience in making a post-secondary education more affordable has important implications for the rest of Canada.
Although I agree that these investments are vital for Canada’s future and these particular government decisions could prove a useful model for other provinces, I’m curious to know how much these investments and the funding necessary to pursue them were made possible by Newfoundland’s ‘newfound’ resource wealth, particularly offshore oil. Surely the federal government under Paul Martin, which exempted future oil revenues from being calculated into Newfoundland’s equalization payments, should receive a bit of the credit for these policy successes as well.
This seems as much a model for developing countries in how to avoid the resource curse as it is an example of smart provincial investment.