College of the North Atlantic faces $1.5 million deficit in wake of provincial budget

CNA’s board of governors is looking into how the college will make up for the loss. Meanwhile, Opposition education critic David Brazil says any cuts should be postponed until after a post-secondary education review has been completed.

Andrew Waterman

The Liberal government is requiring the College of the North Atlantic to come up with a savings of $1.5 million dollars over the next fiscal year.

How CNA will do that will be decided in the coming weeks.

Prior to Tuesday’s provincial budget, the college’s board of governors had already approved CNA’s own budget. However, since the Liberal’s budget announcement, the board will have to revisit its own budget to make room for the new requirement.

In the budget, the government added $1.1 million to uphold a freeze on tuition fees for college students. However, it also cut its overall grant to the college by $2.6 million – leaving a $1.5 million shortfall.

The 2018 budget reduces the province’s grant to CNA by 1.5 million. Kicker/ Andrew Waterman

According to David Brazil, official Opposition critic for education and early childhood development, the college will have to adhere to the tuition freeze, but fees for other services could increase. The college could also cut services to save costs.

“The essence here is, if you are going to increase anything that’s going to come directly out of the pockets of the students, put it on tuition,” Brazil said. “At least it’s tax deductible for them then. Don’t use smoke and mirrors to make it sound like it’s something else; it’s a fee increase, and it’s going to cost the students more.”

Brazil says the term ‘tuition freeze’ is a political word used to appease the student unions.

‘Building Our Future’

A post-secondary review will soon be underway and will provide recommendations to the college on how to save money and improve programs and services. Brazil said decisions should have been left until after the review.

“Why don’t you wait, for the sake of $1.5 million – nickels and dimes in comparison – wait and do the whole review and determine exactly what it is that fits as the new model for post-secondary,” Brazil said.

In 2017, the college eliminated seven programs because of low enrolment, resulting in the loss of 45 jobs.

Similarly, in 2013, adult basic education was cut from the programs offered by the college. Other programs were cut as well, resulting in the loss of 143 jobs. The grant for the college had also been cut that year.

“Budget 2018 marks transformative change to early childhood development and the K-12, and post-secondary education systems. By supporting the principles of accessible education and skills development, we are encouraging career-development and job creation,” the budget document titled “Building Our Future” says.

Al Hawkins, minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, was not available for comment.

Bill Radford, president of CNA, declined an interview but said the board of governors and government officials are working toward a balanced budget.

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