Post-secondary, close to home

By Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education

I hear this from students and parents all the time: we want to be able to study close to home. We simply can’t afford the cost and stress of uprooting to another province or moving abroad.

The majority of Alberta‘s students do study in the province, but veterinary medicine used to be one of those fields where, if you wanted to learn right here, you were out of luck.

In 2005, the University of Calgary’s Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) program opened to serve Albertans here at home.

Since then, the program has grown into a highly recognized institution - already top 50 in the world - with an emphasis on large-animal and rural practice that helps meet the needs of our livestock sector and the health and safety of all Albertans.

That is why I was so pleased to announce our government‘s expansion of the UCVM program, which will nearly double its capacity over a few years.

We will ensure that UCVM has the infrastructure for more labs and teaching facilities, and will include more connections with similar programs in Olds, Vermilion, Edmonton, and Calgary.

Focussing our resources at the University of Calgary will save Alberta taxpayers over $3 million annually. The NDP‘s first priority is, and always will be, making life better for everyday Alberta families.

It’s why we are freezing tuition for the third year in a row and improving Student Aid.

It’s why we are funding new supports for apprentices and community adult learning programs.

And it’s why we are investing in more veterinary medicine spaces in Alberta for Albertans.

Since 2005, Alberta has funded spaces for our students in Calgary as well as at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon.

But the UCVM is ready to train all of the vet students that we need, and so starting in 2020 we will
transfer funding from Saskatoon to Calgary.

If you look at the history of veterinary programs in Canada, growing new schools has not hurt oldprograms or local practices. It has only made them better and stronger.

The same will happen now, and the UCVM will be ready to raise the bar further. This is the right time to grow their program.

Albertans can’t afford the conservative plan which would mean fewer spaces, sky-high tuition, crumbling quality, and cracks in buildings.

Most Albertans can’t afford to leave the province to get their education either.

When we announced the expansion of the UCVM, I heard the story of one student’s mother: She wanted to be a veterinarian but could not leave her family in Alberta, and she did not get to follow her dream.

But now, thanks to our government‘s investments in post-secondary education, more students will be able to get the most out of their talents right here in the province. We are proud to support and invest in programs that make life better and more affordable for all Alberta families.

Now is the time for our young people to get the education they deserve, here at home.

Originally published Nov. 30, 2017, by Beaverlodge & District News