A Brief History of Uncertainty: Government Funding
To illustrate the uncertainty of our financial situation, let me provide a brief history of how government funding has changed in the past year:
- After the Quebec Government brought down its Spring 2012-13 budget, Quebec universities expected additional funding from tuition and government investment – a cumulative total of $2.5 billion over five years (2012-13 to 2016-17). We planned the budget in March 2012 based on these assumptions.
- The day after our Board of Governors approved the University’s 2012-13 budget, the former Government changed the tuition increase from $325/yr to $254/yr, reducing our overall planned revenues by approximately $2 million.
- The new government elected in September then cancelled the tuition increases (a negative impact of $6 million to McGill’s budget, only $4 million of which will be compensated), but promised to compensate universities for the money lost and to honour the former government’s reinvestment in universities.
- In November the Ministry also promised to compensate universities for extra costs incurred as a result of the student conflict last spring.
- The November 20 government budget promised an additional $158 million in reinvestment for 2012-13 (in addition to compensation for tuition), which would rise to nearly $575 million per year in 2018-19.
- Two weeks later, the Minister of Higher Education told Quebec universities that they would face retroactive cuts of $124 million in this year (2012-13).
- From mid-December through mid-January, the Government maintained that they would invest $1.7 billion in Quebec universities over the next seven years for reinvestment and compensation for lost tuition.
- On January 18, 2013, the press reported that the Minister of Higher Education told the President of the University of Quebec network that the $124 million cut would continue for 2013-14, and more cuts might be demanded. The Minister did not confirm or deny the report.
- On January 22, Premier Marois said that she would not guarantee the planned reinvestment of $1.7 billion, and that the Government was looking at changing the formula used to distribute funding to universities. This means that some universities could get less money – on top of the cuts – and some could get more.
- On January 30, Government officials informed us for the first time that if we do not implement at least 50% of the cut required ($9.6 million) before the end of April, the Government might not give McGill the “conditional grant” of $32 million for this year.
Planning for this year – let alone planning for the future – is a nightmare in a context that has not stopped changing since last spring.