Summit confirms Premiers’ commitment to higher education
On February 24, I participated in the Summit on Postsecondary Education and Skills hosted in Ottawa by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie, and Northwest Territories Premier Joe Handley were among the summit's 300 participants, which also included student, college, university, business and labour representatives from across Canada.
The summit focused on seven themes: access, labour force participation, quality and funding, workplace skills, research capacity, lifelong learning, and needs of rural and northern areas. The event attracted national media coverage, including an editorial in the Globe and Mail that quoted AUCC statistics on the funding gap that exists between Canadian and American institutions in providing a quality education.
Premier McGuinty opened the meeting by stressing the need for a pan-Canadian strategy for postsecondary education to ensure excellence. He also challenged Canadians to make education a priority, saying that it is time we devote as much energy and dedication to education as we do to our national hockey teams. McGuinty and Premier Charest also used the opportunity to call on the federal government to immediately restore federal funding to the provinces for postsecondary education to 1994-95 levels.
In the workshops, discussions focused on such issues as research, access for all qualified students, and international education.
Overall, it was a very positive event, with the Premiers agreeing that postsecondary education and training would be a key priority in their discussions with the new federal government.