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Goodale hosts discussion forum on campus

Ralph Goodale is Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Ralph Goodale is Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Discussion focuses on Liberal budget plans & student issues

Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, stopped by the University on Jan. 22. During his visit, Goodale discussed a PTSD strategy meeting that occurred on Jan. 29, the Liberal Party’s national economic plan, and addressed question from the crowd.

In addressing PTSD, Goodale said that the condition is “an increasing national problem for military and veterans, but from my view it has a broader reach than that.” Goodale’s mandate letter issued him, along with the Minister of Health, the responsibility for developing a “national PTSD strategy by consulting broadly across the country.”

Goodale said he wants to “leverage the expertise at the university” in order to help meet that goal. Last Friday, university professors and those working in high stress jobs, such as EMTs and firefighters, conducted a roundtable at the U of R. Goodale appeared via Skype.

Next, Goodale outlined the Trudeau government’s budget and economic plans, noting that “now is the time to offer input, to tell us what you want to see in the budget.”

The budget, he said, has five main areas. The first is investing in infrastructure. Transit was identified as a priority due to the “billions of dollars in lost time and the pollution” caused by traffic jams. Along with transit, green and social infrastructures were highlighted as priorities. Social infrastructure, Goodale said, was flexible.

“Whether its low income housing for those who need it, or daycare, or seniors care, we want you to tell us where you need this money.”

The second pillar of the plan is better access to post-secondary education. This included the increase in grant funding, and establishing an income threshold before required repayment of student loans starts.

Third on the list is direct investment in the economy. Goodale noted that youth unemployment is awful, and that the government needs to create more youth jobs. To tackle this problem, a youth unemployment strategy will be created, along with the creation of 40,000 youth jobs.

Next, Goodale said that Canada needed to be on the “leading edge” of science innovation. Right now, he admitted, this is not the case. The best way to invest in innovation, according to Goodale, is investing in universities.

Finally, Goodale says the Liberals plan to “market Canadian goods.” Trade agreements, says Goodale, are fine, but he sees an increased role for the government marketing Canadian goods to the markets opened up by these deals.

When questions arrived, students were anxious to see if increased university funding meant that the arts and social sciences would be invested in. Goodale assured students that social sciences and arts were essential to solving the problems the world faces today, and that they would receive increases as well.

Asking for clarification on post-secondary education grants, one attendee asked whether the initiatives would increase funding for single parents. Goodale said that the way the system is set up benefits those with dependents but could see changes to increase the amount of funds that end up in the hands of single parents.

Goodale also responded to a question of the Liberals plan for First Nations. He mentioned that there were a variety of reasons for closing the gap for First Nations, “justice, humanity, and decency” among them. Goodale also asked attendees to imagine what employing aboriginals, who currently suffer from chronic high unemployment “would do for the economy”. Goodale also cited a study that showed that when First Nations schools on reserve were given the same funding as other schools, First Nations students performed on par with the rest of Canada.

Finally, Goodale addressed questions of a National Pharmacare plan saying that the federal government needs to be a leader in developing a national pharmacare strategy.

About Derek Cameron