Advanced Education Key to Economic Diversification

 

Our Shadow Minister for Advanced Education, Myles Chykerda, writes about the important role our post-secondary institution have in pushing innovation in Alberta.

This letter was originally published in the Lacombe Express on August 6, 2020.

 

Advanced Education Key to Economic Diversification

 

On June 29th, Premier Kenney released his much-hyped economic recovery plan. Given that individuals such as Jack Mintz and Stephen Harper provided input, expectations were high. Our government had the chance to be bold in laying out a plan for Alberta’s future.

But rather than bold, we got tired and boring. The plan’s ideas are as dated as an Ayn Rand novel and as bland as Reaganomics and Thatcherism.

Albertans deserve a better vision for the future, and that is just one reason the Alberta Party team released its Rebuilding Alberta plan on May 6th.

One element of our plan is a commitment to reverse all funding cuts to Alberta’s Advanced Education system. While the UCP makes lip service to innovation and diversification, they continue to show disdain for the engines that help drive innovation.

The University of Alberta, for example, generates a $12 Billion economic impact annually. It trains students and funds research in areas such as nanotechnology, computer engineering, and artificial intelligence. But its faculty members also work in fields that help make companies in areas like Oil and Gas more efficient and competitive.

Yet there is not a single line from the UCP about supporting our colleges, polytechnics, and universities. They have said nothing about supporting people who have spent their life pushing the boundaries of human innovation.

Instead Albertans will have their tax dollars fund yet another government corporation, Invest Alberta.

Even before the associated legislation has passed, Dave Rodney (who resigned as MLA to allow Kenney to win a seat in Alberta) has been appointed as the agent general of a new Houston office. This comes with a $250,000 salary, and tax payers will also be on the hook for establishing the office, relocation costs, and support staff.

Any UCP statement about caring for small, nimble, and efficient government is a lie.

Alberta has an established network of groups that connect our researchers with innovative businesses and support commercialization. These include Alberta Innovates, the Edmonton Research Park and TEC Edmonton, and Innovate Calgary.

Yet rather than building on existing strengths, the UCP continues to massively defund our Advanced Education sector while creating more patronage appointment opportunities.

Let’s support our existing built-in-Alberta innovation sector, create agile funding channels, and champion the people pushing Albertan innovation.

 

 

Originally published at https://www.lacombeexpress.com/opinion/letter-ab-advanced-ed/

The Alberta Party