In the minister’s chambers

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By Jaclyn Mika

The Liberal government has committed to a two-year tuition freeze, but the newly appointed minister of training, colleges and universities, Mary Anne Chambers, could not say what will happen after that.

“I’d like to just stick to that commitment which will be for two years,” Chambers said.

“That two-year freeze that we’ve committed to will not be done at the expense of the institutions,” Chambers said, adding that the $5.6 billion deficit will be a huge problem for the Liberal government. “Some commitments may have to be delayed because we don’t want to increase that deficit by just simply setting out to spend.”

“The wish list is always longer than the available funds,” she said.

Chambers said she would be exploring partnerships with the private sector to stretch the government funds.

“The tuition freeze is going to be put in place in an effort to give us the opportunity to give the students a little bit of a break,” Chambers said. Sitting in her living room, Chambers discussed problems with student funding and financial assistance programs.

In 1996 Ryerson took on additional students after the Conservative government promised funding for them.

The promise was never fulfilled and the universities were left to foot the bill for these students, known as unfunded Basic Income Units, or BIUs.

Chambers said the unfunded BIUs would not be ignored, but she would not go into detail about what would be done to fund these students, when it would be done or how much that funding would be.

Her ministry has also begun a review of the OSAP system.

“There are some real problems with the definition of need,” she said. “The OSAP criteria don’t address that definition to a satisfactory level.”

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