Students are voicing grave concerns over the Provincial Priorities Act, recently unveiled by the Government of Alberta.

While details are still unclear, the proposed legislation threatens to create a complicated web of red tape that would harm Albertan institutions' access to a wide range of federal funding.

“Albertans pay federal taxes and the federal government has a responsibility to invest back into Alberta's prosperity,” says Chris Beasley, UASU Vice President (External). “Let's not get in the way of Albertans' money coming home for urgently needed infrastructure, cutting-edge research, and opportunities for students to find success in the workforce.”

The UASU calls on policymakers to reconsider the Provincial Priorities Act's scope and implications. Nurturing innovation and ensuring unfettered access to federal research dollars are critical to keeping Alberta competitive and thriving.

Impacts on Communities and Growth

While the UASU strongly supports post-secondary education as a provincial jurisdiction, adding red tape to accessing hundreds of millions of dollars every year would have pervasive economic impacts on the cities and towns that our post-secondary institutions call home. Last year, federal funding to the University of Alberta alone totalled $223 million.

The threat of excessive red tape and prolonged processing times would stifle innovation and hinder it from reaching the market. “From medical advancements to made-in-Alberta solutions for drought and wildfire control,” says UASU President Christian Fotang, “new obstacles to research funding jeopardize Alberta's economic growth and standard of living.”

Meanwhile, post-secondary education is deeply intertwined with the health of local economies and communities. For example, the long-term success of the Rural Medical Education Program Training Centre in Grande Prairie will depend on both provincial and federal funding. "Let's not overlook the significance of federal tax money flowing back into our communities through post-secondary funding," says Beasley. "Bill 18 seems poised to disrupt this crucial cycle. Exempting post-secondary institutions from this bill is essential."

Impacts on Students and Graduates

Many federal grants of all sizes are woven into operations throughout universities and colleges. Students face wide-ranging potential impacts to research jobs, lab infrastructure, mental health resources, official language education, job skill training, some forms of student financial aid, and career opportunities after graduation.

"Students rely on these resources for their education and future prospects," says Fotang. “There's a growing consensus among students and experts that the bill, as currently drafted, comes with all-new red tape and risks to research opportunities, academic freedom, and our chances to be part of Alberta's future prosperity.”

Impacts on Campus Saint-Jean

Beyond research, Alberta post-secondary institutions receive federal funding for infrastructure, trades programs, and education in our official languages. This includes Campus Saint-Jean, whose federal and provincial funding agreement took over three years to finalize, tying up $10.3 million in bureaucratic red tape. Important scholarship funding could also be at risk.

The UASU urgently asks the Minister of Advanced Education to commit that CSJ's funding streams will remain uninterrupted.

About the University of Alberta Students’ Union

The UASU is the official representative of 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.

For more information, to arrange an interview, or for accessibility requests please contact:

Ari Campbell
External Relations Specialist