The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation is facing strong opposition from the NDP’s post-secondary education critic, Denise Savoie, who stated in a letter to Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Monte Solberg that “the Millennium Foundation must be replaced by a publicly administered, federal system of upfront, non-repayable student grants.”
Lavoie suggested that in order to plug a $350-million gap in student funding, CMSF money should be available to all Canada Student Loan borrowers according to need.
A number of student groups, including the Canadian Association of Student Associations, the College Student Alliance and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, are urging the government to extend the CMSF’s mandate, set to expire in 2009. The groups argue that the government should continue funding the organization, which since 2000 has disbursed over half a million bursaries and scholarships totaling about $2.2 billion and each year distributes roughly $325 million in student financial aid.
The Canadian Federation of Students has long opposed the CMSF, saying that the private foundation is not publicly accountable.
According to a paper published by the Education Policy Institute, the CMSF was responsible for 39 per cent of non-repayable need-based aid in Ontario, and close to half of such aid in Manitoba and the Maritimes. In 2005 the CMSF introduced a low-income bursary, which will, said the EPI, account for a higher proportion of needbased CMSF funding in some jurisdictions. Solberg’s office stated that no decisions have been made with regard to the CMSF. According to a government spokesperson, the spring budget will announce any changes from a review of the Canada Student Loan program.