French Canadian association suing Alberta government, U of A over Campus Saint-Jean funding

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In February, the province revealed a 6.3 per cent cut to advanced education funding from the previous year. This decreased total operating expenses for Advanced Education to $5.1 billion from $5.5 billion in Budget 2020. The U of A’s Campus Alberta grant, which makes up nearly 60 per cent of the university’s operating revenue, was reduced by 8.9 per cent for 2020.

The university’s year end financial statements list the grant at $626,861, roughly $44,400 less from the previous year and the lowest it has been since 2017. The U of A’s fiscal year ends on March 31. The statements didn’t break down how much funding Campus Saint-Jean receives.

Risbud said they are demanding the portion of the grant going to Campus Saint-Jean match the number of students enrolled. She said roughly 300 students are not being funded at the campus.

The campus, first established in 1908, is the only location in Alberta where students can study post-secondary education in French.

Laurie Chandler, press secretary for Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, said the ministry will not be commenting on the ACFA legal action.

“We will be discussing any actions or responses with our legal advisers,” she said.

U of A president and vice-chancellor Bill Flanagan said in a media statement that the university supports post-secondary French-language education in Alberta.

“The university’s longstanding commitment to supporting French language learning has not changed,” he said. “We recognize the ongoing funding challenges facing Campus Saint-Jean and we are fully committed to exploring all options that can help secure a sustainable and thriving future for its French-language programs. With this goal always in mind, we look forward to continuing to work closely with the ACFA, recognizing the ACFA’s central role in stewarding Campus Saint-Jean.”

Flanagan said he’s confident everyone working together can find a sustainable approach to delivering French programming.

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