EDMONTON, JULY 21, 2020 – The Government of Alberta has recently announced $98 million in funding to improve infrastructure for post-secondary institutions across the province, inculding the University of Alberta, University of Lethbridge, Olds College, Red Deer College, Lethbridge College, Medicine Hat College and NAIT. The ACFA is extremely disappointed that despite months of discussions with Alberta Advanced Education, no funding has been announced for Campus Saint-Jean.
Despite unprecedented demand and growth, Campus Saint-Jean suffers from chronic underfunding, including capital funding. There has been no investment in new constructions at Campus Saint-Jean in almost 20 years. The Government of Alberta has repeatedly declined to respond to Campus Saint-Jean’s needs in capital funding and for many years has refused to match any federal funds for infrastructure.
In 2016, the government of Alberta refused to provide necessary funds for capital projects of approximately $19 million to bring outdated infrastructure up to 21st century standards. In 2018, the project was significantly revised downwards. Despite this, the government of Alberta provided no support for the desperately needed upgrade of Campus Saint-Jean’s science labs, which dates back to the 1950s. This $3 million renovation of science laboratories is paltry compared to the initial Science Pavilion project, of around $ 40 million, proposed in 2007-2008 and which never saw the light of day due to the Government of Alberta’s refusal to fund it.
More recently, the government of Alberta again refused to provide funding in response to a request for $10.9 million, a modest request in view of Campus Saint-Jean’s needs, for infrastructure renovations. Again, this proposal has been further revised downwards to allow the counterpart from Alberta. The most recent deadlock: $8 million of approved federal funding for an infrastructure project is on hold due to the government of Alberta’s failure to match federal funding.
“We are deeply disappointed. The University of Alberta has confirmed that the Campus Saint-Jean infrastructure project is on its priority list. The federal government has already demonstrated its commitment to fund half of this project on the condition that the province provides matching funds. We don’t understand where the roadblock is. Each time the Alberta Government refuses to fund an infrastructure project at Campus Saint-Jean, it contributes to weakening our only French-language post-secondary institution in Alberta. The 1976 Agreement is clear regarding the obligations of the province to the Campus Saint-Jean. Therefore, I invite the government to reconsider this project.”
Sheila Risbud, President of the ACFA
In the Agreement signed in 1976 between the Government of Alberta, the University of Alberta and the Oblates (role now delegated to the ACFA), the province agreed to provide the necessary funds that would allow the University to continue to maintain, improve and expand the College program at the College site.
Later this week, the ACFA will provide an update on progress of the Save Saint-Jean campaign.
Since 1926, the ACFA has been the voice of the French-speaking community in Alberta. Its role is to promote the interests of the latter and ensure its overall development.
Diane Fournier, Public affairs Assistant