All Posts Tagged With: "saskatchewan"
The boom has slowed, but the province is still growing
The smell of smoked meat wafts through Jack Keaton’s BBQ & Grill.
For diners in the northwest Regina restaurant, it’s mouthwatering. For chef and owner Brett Huber, it’s a dream come full circle.
“When I was growing up, all I wanted to do was get out of here, but now that I’m back it’s like this is where I want to be,” he said.
Huber was born and raised in Regina. He moved to Vancouver when he was 24 for culinary school and worked around British Columbia, as well as in England.
But home was calling.
“I wanted to start a family and I wanted to basically start a restaurant.”
Huber and wife, Kristi, moved to Regina in 2007 — about the time Saskatchewan became the “it” province, the place to be in Canada.
People from every part of the country were flocking in. Statistics Canada figures showed at the time that Saskatchewan’s population growth in 2007-08 was the strongest since the early 1970s. For the first time, the province led the pack when it came to interprovincial migration.
She’s a Jewish-American engineer with research cred
Under President Peter MacKinnon’s 13-year reign, the University of Saskatchewan was transformed from a staid Prairie school into an institution that attracts not only plenty of research dollars for things like the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation and the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, but also a diverse faculty and student population.
That’s makes it unsurprising that the U of S’s new president is a Jewish-American female engineer who has helped lead top research institutions
Ilene Busch-Vishniac, originally from Philadelphia, Penn. has worked for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Texas-Austin, Johns Hopkins University and McMaster University, where she currently serves as provost and vice-president academic.
Busch-Vishniac is an accomplished acoustics researcher and engineering education advocate. In the past, she’s advocated that women don’t need to give up motherhood to have successful careers in academia, encouraged more minorities and women to pursue engineering and worked with the Six Nations in Ontario to increase access to education for Aboriginal Canadians.
And Saskatchewan may give you $20,000
For students who want a guaranteed job after graduation, nothing comes closer than nursing in Saskatchewan. According to the Regina Leader-Post, the government has hired 900 nurses since 2008, but could need as many as 2,000 more in the next two years if those set to retire do so as planned. There were already 449 nursing jobs being advertised in the province last month.
The government has increased seats at post-secondary schools for registered nurses dramatically in the past four years: from 300 in 2006 to 690 now, but that likely won’t be enough.
That’s why, in last week’s Throne Speech, the government announced that seats in universities to train nurse practitioners—highly-paid advanced nurses who often have the ability prescribe drugs—will grow from 30 to 50 per year. The shortage is also the reason the government says it will forgive $20,000 of student loans for recent nursing graduates who work in rural and remote communities for at least five years. It’s easy to see why Saskatchewan is being so agreesive about training, wooing and keeping nurses: neighbouring Alberta is on a nurse hiring spree right now too.
Café lectures trend grows
It’s part of a growing trend in university towns where students are proving they’re interested in learning for the sake of learning—so long as they can simultaneously eat snacks and drink beer.
The Science Pub series was created by Bev Robertson, a professor emeritus who now owns the Bushwakker Brewpub where the monthly event is held. He told the Leader-Post that he got the idea after hearing about similar events further west.
$90-billion possible for Saskatchewan: economist
A new report by University of Saskatchewan economist Eric Howe shows just how much Saskatchewan’s economy could gain by closing the Aboriginal education gap. Howe explains that higher education causes earnings to grow, so if Aboriginal Canadians were to become as highly-educated as non-Aboriginals, the province would increase its economic output by $90-billion. “To put this into context,” writes Howe. “The total production of potash in Saskatchewan back to the start of the industry is… four‐fifths of $90 billion.”
That said, academics often argue about how much education increases economic output. Some think gains in human capital (better skilled workers) have a large impact on economies. Others argue that credentials don’t increase employee performance much, but instead act mainly as “signals” to employers about who is likely to succeed. (To learn more see the book Academic Reform.)
Incumbent party announces two new programs
The Saskatchewan Party’s leader, Premier Brad Wall, announced on Tuesday two new initiatives for improving access to post-secondary education in the province. It happened on the first day of the campaign before the Nov. 7 poll.
The Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship would provide up to $2,000 for high school graduates in the province to go towards tuition fees at Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions. Under the new program, which would be launched next year, students would be able to reduce their tuition costs by up to $500 per academic year.
The second program, the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings, would build on the federal Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help families save for their children’s educations. The provincial government would match 10 per cent of contributions to an RESP account, to a maximum of $250 per year.
The two programs would cost close to $15 million in the next year, according to the release.
So far, Wall’s main challenger, NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter, hasn’t announced any major education-related policy ideas, except that he would spend $24-million to help small centres recruit and keep doctors. That plan would “include things on tuition…” he told the StarPhoenix.
Classes cancelled for 15,000 students
Instructors and staff at all campuses of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology went on strike Tuesday, putting classes for 15,000 students on hold. But the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union will meet with a mediator this morning, reports CTV Saskatchewan. Before the strike, the union rejected an offer from the school that included a 5.5 per cent wage increase over three years.
Capacity at USask will double
Some Saskatchewan students with children will be getting much-needed extra support.
The Saskatchewan Party government announced Monday that more than 150 new child care spots will be funded on university and college campuses. This is especially welcome news at the U of S, which currently has space for only 111 children between its two centres and has sometimes had waiting lists of up to 3 years, according to The Sheaf newspaper.
Approximately 110 will be added at the University of Saskatchewan, doubling its capacity. Another 16 new spaces will benefit students of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) and those attending regional colleges in Punnichy can look forward to a new 30 spaces.
“Our government wants to ensure that our post-secondary students are supported in their studies,” Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris said in a statement released Monday. “These new spaces provide greater opportunity for our students. They will allow more students with children to focus on their studies and, subsequently, succeed in their careers and stay in Saskatchewan.”
Richard Florizone, U of S vice-president of Finance and Resources, said the new development will help the university attract and retain students, faculty and staff, and will also help make the U of S more accessible for Aboriginal students.
Union wants one-time 12 per cent raise
Teachers in Saskatchewan plan to walk off the job on Thursday for a “study day and rally” after 95 per cent voted in favour of job action last week. The Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation wants a 12 per cent increase in pay over the next year. The province’s school boards have offered 5.5 per cent over three years. Alberta’s teachers currently make 20 per cent more than their colleagues to the east. The teachers say they will return to class Friday.
Sask to help medical school grads pay down loans
Saskatchewan needs doctors. The province announced yesterday that it would be providing $450,000 to help medical residents with their student loans.
The province’s funding covers interest on student loans for medical residents over an eighteen month period, while government looks into longer-term strategies to ensure medical residents are assisted while completing their residencies.
“Keeping Saskatchewan-trained medical residents working in the province is a top priority of this government,” McMorris said. “As part of our ongoing retention and recruitment efforts, we are pleased to assist medical residents during their residencies. We can be proud that Saskatchewan is leading the way among the provinces by offering this short-term funding.”
“Our top priority is Saskatchewan’s post-secondary students,” Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Rob Norris said. “I’m pleased that we have been able to develop a solution to meet the Federal legislative requirements of the student loan program while supporting Saskatchewan’s objectives regarding the recruitment and retention of physicians.”
“Postponing repayment will allow residents to continue to lay down roots in the province that they will hopefully one day practise within,” Vice President of the Professional Association of Interns and Residents of Saskatchewan Sue Sidhu said. “We are all extremely grateful that the province has taken action so quickly.”
I’m not really sure what to make of this announcement. Doctors need financial aid? Then again, the life of a resident can be miserable. Its not just the long hours, but the pay. To be sure, full fledged doctors aren’t exactly starving, and should be more than capable of handling their loans, even if they are brushing up against, and sometimes exceeding, $100,000. But for the first few years after graduation, when they are doing their residency, med-school grads earn salaries closer to those with arts degrees. In Saskatchewan the starting wage is around $47,000/year. So after spending eight intense years in university training for one of the most in-demand professions, med school grads can expect the same, or similar, salary as the sociology student who spent three years taking multiple choice exams and who probably has loan payments a third the size.
So there is a credible argument for loan payments to be reduced. But postponing repayment, as residents are still earning a salary, might be too generous.
What is more aggravating is the fact that provincial governments so often market what is essentially a bribe to keep doctors, or anyone of any use, within its borders as a student aid program. Any tuition rebate scheme falls into this category. Presumably the province is having difficulty keeping doctors from leaving after they complete their training. What’s to stop them from leaving anyway? If Saskatchewan is losing doctors to better paying jurisdictions, the province could always raise the rates doctors are paid per appointment. But, then the government would no longer be helping young debt addled grads, but established doctors who will already be earning an upper level income. Alternately, doctors could be fitted with ankle bracelets to keep them from fleeing to Alberta.
Wesley Stevenson charged with fraud of more than $5,000
Wesley Stevenson, accused of defrauding First Nations University of Canada of more than $5,000, will get his day in court, after a three-day preliminary hearing held this week, the Regina Leader Post reports. The university’s governance problems stretch back several years, prompting several audits and independent reviews. Troubles continue to this day.
In 2005, Stevenson, a former financial executive, and two other senior officials at the university were suspended and the university’s board of governors ordered a forensic audit of the school’s finances. He and another official were eventually fired, while the third returned to work. In the months that followed, several high-ranking officials were fired or suspended and others resigned. Stevenson was officially charged by the RCMP in June of last year.
Senior staff, including Stevenson, alleged political interference in the operation of the university by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and its vice-chief, Morley Watson.
The concerns over academic freedom and political interference in the autonomous governance of the university prompted the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) to conduct an independent review of the university in 2007 and to place the institution’s membership in AUCC on probationary status. The university’s full member status has since been reinstated.
In late 2008 the Canadian Association of University Teachers voted to censure FNUC over the university’s governance problems. Censure means that most university teachers will be told to refuse appointments at the university, decline invitations to speak or participate in academic conferences hosted by the university, and turn down any distinctions it offers.
And earlier this year both the Saskatchewan and federal governments suspended funding to the school. The province made the move to freeze $200,000 after an internal report raised concerns about how the Regina-based university is run. An audit committee was established to address the governance issues in a serious way
The $2.4-million that is being held back by Ottawa represents one-third of all Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) funding to the university. INAC has said that university officials must meet various deadlines in the coming months and submit a final “action plan” by Jan. 1, 2010 to trigger a release of the funds. This is the first time the federal department has placed these kinds of conditions on an institution.
The university’s governance problems have persisted. Cheif Financial Officer Murray Westerlund was fired just last week. While the school is claiming that Westerlund’s departure was a mutual agreement, advanced education minister Rob Norris is not buying it and says while the government continues to work with the FNUC to complete the internal audit, it is not sure what action will be taken next.
With files from the Canadian Press and Karen Pinchin
Don’t be born in Ontario
For med school hopefuls, Ontario might seem like the perfect province to live in.
There are 17 med schools in the country. Six of those are in Ontario, more than any other province. But as I recently discovered, being born in Ontario is actually a huge handicap.
Most med schools prefer applicants from their own province. It makes sense: if you train local doctors, you produce local doctors. It’s not unusual to reserve 85 percent or even 90 percent of the available seats for in-province applicants. Most med schools even have higher entrance requirements for out-of-province applicants.
Everyone likes their own brand.
Except for Ontario. Not a single med school in Ontario reserves spots for Ontario applicants.
On the surface, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario might seem like exceptions to the rule. On it’s website, Northern says that it encourages applications from “students who are from Northern Ontario and/or students who have a strong interest in and aptitude for practicing medicine in northern urban, rural and remote communities.” Western Ontario gives special consideration to applicants from “rural/regional communities in Southwestern Ontario.”
But neither of these med schools actually reserve spots for in-province applicants. Not to mention, those “rural and remote” communities that Northern Ontario mentions could actually be anywhere across Canada.
McMaster’s policy is a bit more complicated. They don’t actually reserve med school spots for in-province applicants. Instead, they award 90 percent of interview positions for Ontario residents.
Yeah, I know. I had to read that twice, too.
It means that once you reach the interview stage, it doesn’t matter which province you’re from.
Even if McMaster offered a genuine advantage to in-province applicants, it wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway. With over 4500 applicants and a success rate of 4.9 per cent in 2006/2007, getting into McMaster is like winning the med school lottery.
Both province and feds are withholding funding from beleaguered university
Officials from the First Nations University of Canada are accusing the federal and provincial governments of being uncooperative and unnecessarily negative in their attempts to address alleged governance problems at the Saskatoon school, according to The StarPhoenix.
“The government should just get off its pot and start doing something more positive,” said faculty member Sharon Acoose in a speech to a gathered crowd of about 100 at Thursday’s open house. “Work with us. We have a beautiful university. Open your eyes and see that.”
In 2005, Morley Watson, chair of the university’s board of governors, suspended several senior administrators and allegedly seized the university’s central computers, copied the hard drive with all faculty and student records, and ordered administrative staff out of their offices.
Since that time, two different studies by both the provincial government and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations have recommended changes to the university’s board structure in an effort to improve transparency and good governance. Enrolment at the school has plunged, and many of the faculty and administrative staff have left.
In November 2008, the Canadian Association of University teachers imposed censure on the university, which meant that most of the Canada’s university teachers have been told to refuse appointments at the university, decline invitations to speak or participate in academic conferences hosted by the university, and turn down any distinctions.
Last March, the province suspended $200,000 of funding to the school, saying that “fundamental changes” needed to be made, and the federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is withholding more than $2 million for the same reason.
Those reactions are not sitting well with many of Thursday’s speakers, reports The StarPhoenix.
According to Acoose, the university is being “picked on.” She praised the work of university president Charles Pratt and vice-president of finance Al Ducharme. “Let us do our jobs. Quit holding the purse strings above our heads. We are not puppets.”
The university’s vice-president of academics Herman Michell said he agrees with Acoose.
“Sharon Acoose mentioned the struggles our university has gone through in the past four or five years. She’s right. As far as I’m concerned, we should have 50 of these First Nations universities across Canada. A lot of institutions across Canada are facing the same challenges we are,” he said.
“I call on the federal and provincial government to step up to the plate and help us do our work.”
A spokesman for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada says his department is “not going to address the comments made at the open house.” He said the funding conditions will remain, along with their late-November deadline.
Songwriter and activist portrayed Chief Kenidi on “North of 60″ for six seasons
Actor, musician and producer Tom Jackson has been appointed the 10th chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.
Jackson, who replaces astronaut Roberta Bondar in the position, will serve a three-year term from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2012.
The Saskatchewan native has recorded 14 albums as a singer and songwriter, but he may be best known as an award-winning actor.
Jackson, who was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, portrayed Chief Peter Kenidi on the TV series “North of 60″ for six seasons.
He has also made appearances in such programs as “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Law and Order” and has received numerous awards in recognition of his work in social activism.
- The Canadian Press
Offers graduates up to $20,000 if they relocate and stay for at least seven years
Premier Dalton McGuinty shrugged off concerns Tuesday that Saskatchewan’s cash-infused efforts to lure graduates west will exacerbate Ontario’s economic woes by poaching its best and brightest.
McGuinty insisted that Ontario still has 100,000 jobs it can’t fill, even though the province has lost about 160,000 jobs since October and its unemployment rate is at a 12-year high.
“My competition is not the rest of Canada,” he said. “My competition is New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, even California. And we are not going to take our eye off that ball.”
McGuinty seemed unconcerned that Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is headed to Ontario next week to offer college and university graduates up to $20,000 if they move to his province and stay for at least seven years.
The offer is being made to graduates across Canada, but Wall is making the pitch himself in Toronto – his second Ontario recruitment drive in seven months.
Wall hasn’t been shy about his efforts to storm Ontario for skilled labour.
Earlier this month, he hosted a lunch for 86 Ontario families who moved to Saskatchewan following his government’s recruitment push last fall.
Last summer, his ministers led two delegations of Saskatchewan employers to London, Ont., and Windsor – a city where the jobless rate sits at a painful 12.6 per cent.
Manitoba is also setting its sights on Ontario and other hard-hit provinces this spring with a $2-million TV ad campaign to entice disheartened workers to relocate.
Both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have managed to escape the worst effects of the recession and are among the few provinces expected to see growth this year.
Province freezes $200,000 until “fundamental changes” are made
The Saskatchewan government has suspended funding to First Nations University Of Canada, saying it wants to see steps taken to restore the institution’s accountability.
The province made the move to freeze $200,000 after an internal report raised concerns about how the Regina-based university is run. Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris said the government needs to see an interim board or subcommittee established to address the governance issues in a serious way.
However, university board chair Clarence Bellegarde says he doesn’t agree with the internal report.
He says the report wasn’t written by experts on how universities are run, and he wants to hire a professional consultant to review the school’s operations.
Bellegarde warned that without provincial funding, the university may have to cut back some services.
Just five months ago, the Wall government announced hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to the university to help pay for construction, staff and supplies.
Since then, the Canadian Association Of University Teachers censured the school over what they call political interference.
A vice-president was fired, and students held a rally to voice their own concerns.
- The Canadian Press
Goodale jumped head first into politics
As a continuation of our “Individuals of an Election” series, I wanted to say a few words about Ralph Goodale. This series is meant to give a behind-the-scenes look at some of the politicians either running in the upcoming federal election or who have run at some point in the past. All those we profile here were featured in our book Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started, which means they were nice enough to sit down for an interview.
A few days ago, I mentioned John Godfrey‘s story. He was someone who knew that, before diving into the political maelstrom, he needed to have a grip on (at least) one other career. So he became involved in university administration and newspaper publishing. But that certainly isn’t the only approach…
Ralph Goodale will be again running for the Liberals in Regina’s Wascana riding on the October 14 election. An impressive fact is that his is the only seat in the province not belonging to the Conservatives at this point (which leads one to reflect on the strange status quo in the province, which has historically elected the NDP to its legislature, while opting for across-the-board Tories in the federal game).
But back to the point of this blog: finding out how successful Canadians started out in their careers. The case of Goodale is quite different than that of Godfrey. Goodale dove right in and became an MP at the tender age of twenty-four, then, in 1974, one of the youngest in Ottawa. But times were special. Most important was the impact Pierre Trudeau had on Goodale’s generation, motivating youth everywhere to get involved in the country’s governance.
Goodale also said that, as someone who had graduated from law school at the University of Saskatchewan, he had the option of practicing law. In fact, he was working at a firm when he ran in his first election. But, according to him, sometimes an opportunity comes your way and you have to jump at it: in this case, a series of unforeseeable events that had opened up a spot on the Liberal’s roster. Otherwise, he may have remained a lawyer, gotten his roots down, become a partner and then, next thing he knows, he’s well into his middle years and, perhaps, too old to run an energetic and vigorous campaign.
So, as a counterbalance to the earlier story this week, often individuals can run for politics early in their careers. And for Goodale, it has been his entire career. After a stint as leader of the (doomed) provincial Liberals, he returned to the federal scene and eventually became minister of finance in Paul Martin’s government.
For anyone who is worried that we’ve featured far too many Liberals in these pages (Ujjal Dosanjh, John Godfrey, and now Goodale), especially because of the way this election will likely turn out, fret no longer. Coming up, we’ll feature one of the biggest non-Liberals in Canadian history: Brian Mulroney! And for those worried about the high number of MEN being featured, we’ll be profiling Lynda Haverstock and the other incredible women who have pushed their way to the top in this traditionally male-dominated business.
And for those reading in or around Toronto, the three Kickstart authors are going to be at the Word on the Street festival at Queens Park this Sunday, September 28. The festival is consistently chosen to be one of the city’s best, bringing together thousands of people, booksellers and authors on what hopes to be a glorious fall day. In the IdeaSpace tent at the north end of the park at 11:00 AM, we will be talking about the book, as well as selling and signing copies.