New Green Alliance answers to post secondary student concerns

Note:  in 2005 the name of the Party changed to the Green Party of Saskatchewan

Dear Phoebe DeCiman:

Thank you for the opportunity during this provincial election campaign to respond to the Saskatchewan Student Coalition on the topic of post-secondary education. The New Green Alliance is pleased to offer our responses to the questions that you have raised.


Ben Webster
Leader, New Green Alliance
NGA candidate for Prince Albert Northcote

Saskatchewan Provincial Election 2003 Party Questionnaire

Please complete the following questionnaire and return us, no later than Monday, October 27, 2021 - Fax to (306)-586-8812 or email to

Phoebe DeCiman, President

University of Regina Students Union

221 Riddell Centre Building

University of Regina Regina, SK S4S 0A2

1. The Saskatchewan Student Coalition requested an increase in operating grants for universities. Is your party prepared to commit increased funds for operating grants for post-secondary institutions, and if so, how do you plan to fund these increases?

This is one element of our Election Platform passed by the general membership at convention 2003. This supports earlier policy resolutions:

A New Green Alliance Government will restore adequate public funding to Saskatchewan's universities. The corporate sector's growing stranglehold on universities shall be eliminated. All qualified citizens of Saskatchewan are entitled to free higher education as they are to health care and secondary education. For all academically qualified residents, student tuition fees will be rapidly reduced and eventually eliminated for four years of education.

2. How do you plan to ensure these increased operating grants will directly help students by targeting tuition fees?

The NGA has no plans to become directly involved in internal University operations. Academic institutions require a level of autonomy to maintain the integrity of the education process and academic freedom. The issue of tuition for post-secondary, undergrad education will be addressed when tuition fees for Saskatchewan students are phased out as per NGA plans. See the policy quoted above.

3. The SSC has asked for a multi-year commitment for operating grants. How does your party plan to sustain these grants over your term in government?

The entire focus of the NGA is based on long-term perspectives. We believe that much of what is wrong in how our society works is the result of short-term perspectives that are irresponsible over the long term. We know that reforms in many areas are going to require a significant reform of our taxation / revenue situation. That has to happen immediately, and then all Saskatchewan institutions and communities can have confidence that sustainable policies and financing will be in place. We are also committed to a "Quality Saskatchewan" program that would work to have Saskatchewan products, communities and institutions, and especially our academic institutions, become certified as high quality , and that are recognized nationally and internationally. To obtain such quality recognition and to sustain that degree of recognition / certification, will demand that government and the governing boards of our institutions be absolutely committed to quality over the long term. Get ting this long term commitment from all is one of the key benefits of the "Quality Saskatchewan" plan. This is a longer term development and would require the involvement of the community at all levels, and with Saskatchewan's post-secondary institutions, this would certainly require the involvement of student representatives throughout the process.

4. Currently, many Saskatchewan students use co-op education training as part of their programme, and many of these jobs are at Saskatchewan's crown corporations. How will your party ensure that co-op programmes remain accessible for Saskatchewan students? Please elaborate.

Certainly student co-op education training is one very appropriate method of bringing young people into the economy of the Province, regardless of the economic sector or region of the province. Although the NGA does not address that specific issue by policy or platform statement, I believe it is a reasonable extrapolation from other policy statements to understand that successful integration of students into our larger society and economy must be seen as an extension of our total commitment to quality education, quality communities and quality local economies. In Saskatchewan our economy has public and private components, and all sectors need to be on-board in a sustainable and comprehensive plan to build these opportunities that benefit the new worker and thereby, the entire community and economy.

5. Currently Saskatchewan students face huge sums of debt and the average student debt across Canada is $25,000. This debt is in the form of student loans. The Saskatchewan Student Coalition has asked that the government reform the student loan programme to make it less detrimental to students. How does your party plan to reform student loans?

To this point the NGA does not have specific policy that deals with the structure of the current Student Loan Programme. We have our over-all commitment to supporting all Saskatchewan young people as they take their roles in our larger community. Many NGA members are now or were recently post-secondary students, and are living the burden of huge student loans. We certainly are open to many forms of specific government action that will restore community justice to the system. The issue you point to is a good example of how justice has not been there for many of our young citizens.

6. Currently, the government of Saskatchewan has a $150 tax credit for graduates who remain in Saskatchewan. Does your party see a need to expand this system? If so, how?

In 2002 the NGA Convention passed the following policy resolution. We see this as an interim situation until there is a complete removal of tuition fees for all post-secondary education students:

"_ BE IT RESOLVED that any person who has lived in Saskatchewan and has graduated from a post-secondary institution will be entitled to a maximum, non-transferable $2000 tax reduction for each year of work following their graduation if they continue to work and reside in Saskatchewan up to the same number of years that it takes to normally complete their course of study. "

7.  The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour has requested that the minimum wage in Saskatchewan be raised to $7.40 an hour, which is their calculated poverty line. Will your party commit to raising the minimum wage to $7.40?

The NGA has policy that would raise the minimum wage to $8.00 per hour, and will index the minimum wage to the cost of living. Our policy reflects our basic principles of justice for all, including fair wages for work contribution to the total society.

8.  Much election discussion has revolved around increasing numbers of students in the health sciences, technology and business. How will your party ensure employment opportunities for students not studying in these fields?

I am not sure that I understand the question as you have worded it. If you are asking how an NGA government would ensure employment opportunities for all students outside of the health sciences, technology and business, such as agriculture, environmental sciences, trades, technologies, etc. , that is a huge question. The short answer is that government cannot and probably should not even attempt to ensure comprehensive employment opportunities for all except that it has a key responsibility in regulating , encouraging and supporting on behalf of the total society, and that if we build a healthy society in a healthy land with healthy economies, there will be quality and enduring employment opportunities for our citizens from many different fields of knowledge, skill and ability.

9.  The Saskatchewan Student Coalition has suggested that post-secondary education should remain public in order to ensure quality and accessibility. Do you agree that post-secondary education should remain public? Please expand.

Again, we do not have specific policy statements that address private post secondary education businesses. However, our commitment to supporting the affordable access of all Saskatchewan young people to quality, publicly-funded education opportunities is strong. We believe that if our common, community responsibility is effectively met, the issue of private businesses providing post-secondary education will not be a serious issue. No doubt there will always be some forms of post secondary education or training that will be handled by private suppliers and that will have private clients, but this must not become the norm. Our commitment is to our young citizens and their welfare, not to the success of any private business, regardless of its nature.

10.  What other measures, besides tax cuts, do you feel are important to keep Saskatchewan students in the province?

The New Green Alliance believes that Saskatchewan has incredible opportunites to be the best place to live in Canada. We have a relatively clean environment, we have an abundance of resources, and we have people with a tradition of friendly and cooperative community undertakings. This heritage can produce that "Quality Saskatchewan" experience over the long term that will not only entice young people to remain and be part of this land into the future, but will also attract many others who want to share in a healthy economy based on a healthy environment that seeks to support a just and caring society for all of our citizens.

Consider further research on our policies and platform by going to our election website at and to our regular site at .

Remember, please submit this completed questionnaire no later than Monday, October 27, 2003.

Phoebe DeCiman, President

University of Regina Students' Union