Mr. Speaker, in response to a) the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, CMSF, was mandated to improve access to post-secondary education for all Canadians, but reviews of the CMSF found little evidence that it had achieved this. A decision needed to be made on the future of the CMSF as the ten year mandate to spend its original $2.5 billion endowment was coming to end. The government has decided that federal funds would be more effectively used via an upfront grant that targets assistance to students from low and middle-income families.
The Canada student loans program, CSLP, carried out five research studies of the CMSF to assess the Foundation’s performance, effectiveness and success in achieving its mandate. Concurrent with the CSLP research studies, the Office of the Auditor General, OAG, completed an audit of the foundation and the Treasury Board Secretariat, TBS, completed an evaluation of foundations as instruments for public policy.
In response to b) HRSDC consulted internally through a task team, that included representatives from legal services, communications and strategic policy and research, and executive committees. The director general of the Canada student loans program, CSLP, briefed the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Privy Council Office in the summer of 2007.
From the outset, the government recognized the importance of stakeholder input to the success of the CSLP review. As a result, stakeholders were involved from the beginning. An online public consultation was held to provide Canadians with a forum to contribute their views. Departmental officials worked with the national advisory group on student financial assistance to gather the views of all major interest groups, including student groups. As well, regular consultations were held with provinces and territories through the FPT policy working group on student financial assistance and the intergovernmental consultative committee on student financial assistance. Many concerns on the future of the CMSF were raised during these consultations with stakeholder groups. This input provided a wide range of issues to consider and helped shape the initiatives announced in budget 2008.
In response to c) The government will work with provinces and territories over the next year to implement these new measures and to ensure effective coordination with existing programs.
In response to d) Provinces that choose not to participate in the CSLP are entitled, under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, to receive compensation in the form of alternative payments if they operate programs which are substantially similar to the federal program. Currently, the province of Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are entitled to alternative payments.
In response to e) Interactions with provincial programs, including Quebec, are always considered through consultations and analysis when contemplating policy changes to the Canada student loans program. The Government of Canada will work with provincial jurisdictions over the next year on the implementation of budget 2008 measures so as to ensure effective coordination.
In response to f) As mentioned initially, a decision needed to be made on the future of the CMSF as the ten year mandate was coming to an end. The results of the afore-mentioned reviews, undertaken to assess the CMSF’s performance, effectiveness and success in achieving its mandate, were examined and informed this government’s decision which was announced in budget 2008 on February 26, 2008.