Ontario Universities Welcome Investments in Knowledge Infrastructure and Human Capital

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - Ontario universities welcome the federal
government's important investments announced yesterday in Budget 2009 in
infrastructure, graduate scholarships and research internships. These
initiatives are key to the short-term stimulus of our economy and to
longer-term prosperity.
    "The $2 billion to repair and expand facilities at post-secondary
institutions will provide jobs locally for trades people, support
environmental goals with energy efficiency retrofits and, more importantly,
build the foundation for future opportunities in the knowledge economy," says
Dr. Peter George, President and Vice Chancellor of McMaster University. "We
applaud the federal government for its commitment to knowledge infrastructure
and look forward to working with government to address priorities around
research as well as the classrooms and learning centres that contribute to
student success."
    George also noted the additional $750 million for the Canada Foundation
for Innovation, $87.5 million for Canada Graduate Scholarships and $3.5
million for internships in science and business: "These investments are very
important to boosting the volume of advanced degree holders in Canada and to
fostering a creative and productive culture of research and innovation that
will drive future growth. We look forward to working closely with federal and
provincial governments to get this work started quickly."
    Universities are well-positioned to assist the government in kick
starting economic activity as there are some $1.6 billion in campus renewal
needs in Ontario alone.
    Investments in graduate scholarships are important because global demand
for advanced degree holders is rising at an unprecedented rate in the
knowledge economy. Canada needs to produce more highly-qualified people to
meet the needs of both business and government. Canada also needs robust
investment in research to ensure that we continue to create the new products,
services, medical treatments and cures that contribute to the economic and
social well-being of our country.
    Ontario's 19 universities as well as the Ontario College of Art & Design
and the Royal Military College operate on 33 campuses in 27 communities across
the province. They contribute to the economic, social, cultural, and athletic
life of their communities where infrastructure spending will not only create
jobs but provide a visible symbol of hope to encourage further activity and
investment in the Ontario economy.
    "We also commend Premier McGuinty for working closely with the federal
government to secure these investments that will build a better economic
future and for stepping out in advance of the federal budget to commit his
government to matching federal infrastructure dollars," said Dr. Paul C.
Genest, President of COU. "The Ontario government helped pave the way for
these investments when they invested $400 million in deferred maintenance at
our universities and colleges last year."
    "We look forward to the provincial budget where we hope further attention
will be given to academic infrastructure and to investing in preserving jobs
in the university sector. These jobs are currently threatened by the impact of
financial markets on endowments and pensions and because operating grants are
not keeping pace with the growth in student demand," said Genest.

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Grass, (416) 707-6787,
jgrass@cou.on.ca; Paul Genest, (416) 616-7231, pgenest@cou.on.ca

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