So the budget came out yesterday, eh?
And shortly thereafter a concerned correspondent sent me the following:
I’m wondering as a follower of your blog what your thoughts are on this juicy budget comment?: “Universities and municipalities receive significant financial support from New Brunswick taxpayers. The government anticipates these entities will take the appropriate steps to manage their wage bills in a manner similar to the province. Grants to universities and municipalities will be adjusted in future years to reflect this expectation.”
It is my understanding that blood doesn’t come from stones. Did the latest report from the working committee not point to how underfunded NB universities are to begin with??? I can’t help but feel we’re in a race to the bottom. How again does this help UNB compete with other jurisdictions, stop the “brain drain”, and keep qualified academics in our institutions?
Well, yes. To mix the metaphors, not only is there no fat on the body, particularly on the SJ campus, but the muscles are already compromised. They’re going to “adjust us” right into the Bay of Fundy.
Other issues that come to mind: for various Byzantine and historical reasons the SJ campus is dependent on tuition to a much larger extent than the F’ton campus. But the F’ton campus budget still owes a hefty chunk to tuition as well, not to mention other sources of income such as research grants, donations, and whatnot. UNB is not a branch of government and doesn’t rely completely on government funding, so whether it is even legal for them to try and impose any sort of wage freeze is one question that would need to be answered.
It is irritating that the government is taking on the rule of school proctor here, rapping the knuckles of the greedy out-of-control children. Faculty are only too aware of the recession and its destructive potential, and I can say that with authority as I have been participating in some of the pre-bargaining meetings with different units on campus. So far, at least, no-one has showed up at a meeting agitating for huge pay increases come hell or high water. Academics are, as a group, responsible and committed members of the university community, a community that we on this campus fought hard to sustain when this same government that is now treating us like hungry tigers tried to shut us down. So while we are casting moral and censorious eyes about us, I would cast one or two on them and suggest that they look to their own house. And by that I do not mean cull the lowest paid overworked front-line workers, as they have been doing and will no doubt in light of yesterday’s comments continue to do.
The government is treading on some very thin ice here when they threaten to legislate if they cannot negotiate. Presumably they are referring to unionized government employees specifically, which is bad enough, but there are implication for all of us. It is chilling that in their panicked response to the recession they are attacking working people rather than protecting them.
And have they not been paying attention to all the discussion of stimulating the economy and the role of educational institutions in that endevour? Driving already underfunded universities into the ground — even if that ground is “shovel-ready” — is hardly stimulating.
No, I’d say yesterday’s budget merely underscores the significant dearth of thoughtful leadership in our provincial legislature.