Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Secondary Education Funding

I was reading some comments at a WRA forum and someone mentioned that if college/uni students were to get a free ride, that should come with a signed agreement that if Alberta pays for their studies, they should HAVE to remain in Alberta for at least 5 years following their graduation. A bunch of people agreed. It might sound 'good' on the outset - why pay for a bunch of people who might fly the coop and then never contribute back to society here?

I knew that in our Charter Of Rights and Freedoms, the right to Mobility is written in there, but as usual there is a failsafe written in as well.

Mobility of citizens
6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
Rights to move and gain livelihood
    (2) Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right
         (a) to move to and take up residence in any province; and
         (b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
Limitation ( what I deem the fail-safe)
    (3) The rights specified in subsection (2) are subject to
        (a) any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence; and
        (b) any laws providing for reasonable residency requirements as a qualification for the receipt of publicly provided social services.

Now, I imagine it would depend on what the definition of social services is and the related requirements. For example, if we are talking about a Canadian receiving welfare payments and they move to Montana, they of course no longer qualify for funding from Canada. Or perhaps another example may be that in Alberta, I can qualify for 'Alberta Working Family Tax Credit' (or whatever it's called now) - so if I moved to BC, I would no longer qualify for that Alberta tax credit.

When it comes to schooling - if a student receives 100% funding from Alberta to go to UofCalgary, but then gets a job offer in British Columbia, the people on this forum were suggesting that NO, the student could not take that job even though it is still within Canadian borders. Is that 'right'? Is that what we are going to do now? Dictate where and when people can move to another part of Canada? Or elsewhere for that matter?

But this is always the way when people demand money from govt bodies - it always comes with strings attached. They are not just going to hand out funding willy-nilly. There will be rules and regulations attached. Let's say a student finishes a degree in Social Services to become a therapist. But a year later they realize that it was not what they were hoping, or they got a job offer in a different field for more money and they wanted to take it - another 'rule' written into the funding could be a requirement that every student works in their degree-field for at least 5 years. What if jobs are scarce in your region because of the massive numbers of people taking up the free-college offer and the only ones you can find require a move to a different province? Oops sorry, you can't go because we paid for you and dammit, you are staying in Alberta whether you like it or not.

Is that what we really want to happen? I cannot believe people think it's okay to put these rules on. How about we keep it the way it is - if you want to further your education, you need to find a way to pay for it?

Another example I thought of - a young couple gets married and have a child and the mother has a great job already, and the father decides to go to college. We pay for his education and he gets a nice new degree. Shortly after graduation, his wife receives a fantastic promotion - only problem is, she would have to move to Ontario to take it on. It's something she has been wishing for since she got into her career and it's a big step. But wait, hold on a second - her husband cannot leave Alberta for 5 more years! Their daughter is now 4 years old and her parents would have to either live separate until the father was permitted to leave Alberta (????!!!!) or her mother would have to turn down the job offer and remain here with her family. Why do we have the right to decide this for this family? Because we helped put the father through college? Do you see the problems that could result from this?

Perhaps the rule would state that if you choose to leave Alberta, you then have to pay back all of the money, or some related portion based on the number of years working in Alberta before moving,.... but they already know that people tend to not pay that back in full, there are millions or even billions owed in the past govt student loans program from eons ago --- so now what? Do you go to jail for daring to leave Alberta and not wanting to, or not able to, pay back the funding?

Seriously - what were they thinking about when putting that forward as a suggestion? It will only end in tears, trust me.

I am updating this now because I wrote it at 7am when I was barely awake lol. What I also wanted to say was that I do not believe that college/uni should be free. I don't know how on earth we would be able to pay for that! It's difficult enough as it is to get funding for grades 1-12, let alone full provision of secondary school. I cannot imagine how it would possibly work. One year of the program I was working on cost $8,000 which means the amount of income tax I would pay in the resulting job field would take 7 years to pay back, and that's with ALL my income tax going to that and nothing else. That was for a relatively cheap Early Childhood Education Certificate. The diploma would cost another $13,000 and I would only get a $2/hour raise out of it so how many years would it take me to pay that back in tax? Sheesh. Now think about the cost for doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, business, engineers, etc. Wow. That would be a sinking black hole.

But to require people to remain in Alberta for a certain amount of time after graduation infringes on Rights as deemed in the Charter. Education funding would have to be classed as a social service for it to be held under the limitation but I can bet money that many people would file court actions for being held against their will. Infringing on rights is what people complain about all the time,  but some will turn right around and think this requirement is a good idea. It's totally mental, sorry.

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