Province gives $3.6 million

The government of the province of Ontario has given Wilfrid Laurier University $3.6 million as money towards filling the debt from the 2008-09 fiscal year.

“In previous years, prior to this one, the government had allocated funds at the end of the fiscal year that allowed universities to basically balance their books,” commented president of WLU Max Blouw.

“We had not expected those funds for 08-09, and we were very pleased to be getting those funds.”

WLU found out they were getting the money in March, and according to vice-president academic Deb McLatchy, the money is end-of-year funding that fills the holes from the previous fiscal year.

“The government doesn’t fund all of the students up front, it holds back and then gives it as year-end funds.

“It has stabilized 08-09, so we were able to have a little bit more carry over into 09-10 than we were expecting,” said McLatchy.

The money was given to general operating funds, 80 per cent of which is allocated to salaries and benefits.

Blouw noted that the money will help with decision making for the impending budget due in June.

“The kinds of adjustments we thought we would have to make, in regards to cost reduction, we will be able to relax a little on those for this coming year.”

The government has made it clear, however, that the money is a one-time thing, and not to expect the funds next year.

“The challenge for us is that this is one-time-only money, and we can’t count on it being in the budget or the government providing it again,” said McLatchy.

“We’re looking very carefully how to best use the money to help in some of the areas that we need it most.”

The issue of where to use the funds will be brought up at the Senate finance committee’s meeting this Friday. One of the main priorities will be delivering programs to the undergraduate and graduate students next year, but that will be only one priority out of many.

“The government had indicated not to count on the year-end monies in the coming year,” said Blouw.

“So it remains a guessing game as to where our budget will be a year from now.”

The 2009-10 budget will be presented to WLU’s board of governors June 18 at Laurier’s Brantford campus.