SSMU has proposed to redirect poorly invested private funding required under Quebec’s one per cent training investment program to McGill coffers.
As stipulated by Emploi-Québec, multi-million dollar private companies must allocate one per cent of their profits toward employee training, but SSMU argued that since university education is essentially employee training, the private funding should be directed to universities and other post-secondary institutions.
SSMU VP External Devin Alfaro, explained that the company’s required investment was often misplaced.
“Companies are obligated to invest money into worker training [and] any money that isn’t spent gets taxed,” he said. “What ends up happening is that companies end up not spending the money wisely [and] just wasting it.”
The administration’s response to this issue could be hard to anticipate, Alfaro explained, since McGill may worry that extra public allocation of resources may discourage direct funding from private companies.
“Companies may think they’ve already given [through the re-modeled one percent plan],” said Alfaro, “so it may have a negative impact on the funding McGill gets directly.”
In 2007, McGill Principle Heather Monroe-Blum spearheaded a capital campaign, which aims to raise 750-million dollars through donations from corporations and private philanthropists. With substantial donations heavy-hitters like Hydro-Quebec – that gave $10-million to the campaign – Blum is more than half way to reaching her goal.
Nonetheless, Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) stressed that McGill is still in a precarious financial position.
“McGill is woefully underfunded,” he wrote in an email to The Daily, but then admitted that he knew “virtually nothing about the plan,” and could not yet officially comment on it.
SSMU has yet to notify the administration of its plan.
With McGill in dire need of additional funding, an increase through a new one percent plan could benefit everyone on campus, and even, as Alfaro argued, the campus itself. Alfaro hoped extra funding dollars collected through the one per cent campaign could be directed to improving buildings and classrooms, and decreasing undergraduate class sizes.
“Course sizes are getting ridiculous now. Lecture halls aren’t big enough,” Alfaro said, suggesting extra funding could be used to expand lecture halls, or provide multiple sections for some courses.
SSMU declared they will rally student support for this initiative in future months.