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Education

RDC’s Movies Worth Watching celebrates 30th Anniversary of Willow

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Upcoming January Events: RDC’s School of Creative Arts

Red Deer, January 3, 2018 – Red Deer College invites central Albertans to join us as the School of Creative Arts brings creativity to life throughout an exciting season of diverse performances, concerts, screenings and exhibitions. RDC’s talented students, instructors, staff and special guests will present the following events throughout the month of January:

Movies Worth Watching Series

Willow (1988) 30th Anniversary Event
January 11 & 12 at 7pm – admission $5 – rating PG 

This epic Lucas film fantasy serves up enough magical adventure to satisfy fans of the genre, though it treads familiar territory. With abundant parallels to Star Wars, the story (by George Lucas) follows the exploits of the little farmer Willow (Warwick Davis), an aspiring sorcerer appointed to deliver an infant princess from the evil queen (Jean Marsh) to whom the child is a crucial threat. Val Kilmer plays the warrior who joins Willow’s campaign with the evil queen’s daughter (Joanne Whalley, who later married Kilmer). Impressive production values, stunning locations (in England, Wales, and New Zealand) and dazzling special effects energize the routine fantasy plot, which alternates between rousing action and cute sentiment while failing to engage the viewer’s emotions.

Movies Worth Watching brings a variety of classic films that best viewed on the BIG screen. Join us to see the best Hollywood has to offer. Every screening is preceded by an MPA student film that we know you will love. For detailed information visit rdc.ab.ca/showtime.

A Frosty Affair (2015)

January 26 & 27  Welikoklad Event Centre Cinema at 7:00 pm – Admission by donation

A Frosty Affair is not the latest Canadian weather forecast, but the title of the newest feature film shot in Edmonton by RDC Alumni.

For complete details on RDC’s 2017-18 School of Creative Arts season, please visit School of Creative Arts Showtime.

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Education

Bad student visa policy is no solution for bad student visa policy

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From the MacDonald Laurier Institute

By Ken Coates

Making matters worse, a Statistics Canada report released in November of 2023 found that the number of postsecondary students actually enrolled at Canadian Universities was 20% to 30% smaller than the total number of individuals with international student visa’s.

Post-secondary education is in turmoil, thrust into the headlines by the Government of Canada’s decision to cut back on international student visas and work permits. The near panicked response by colleges and universities across the county has attracted attention. The federal decision is poor public policy, with flawed timing, significant negative impacts, and potentially serious long-term implications. But the ‘solutions’ implemented in January 2024 are a classic example of using bad policy to address bad policy.  The fallout from this mélange of policy decisions could severely damage Canadian post-secondary institutions and the Canadian economy.

Governments, colleges, and universities have come to rely on international students, now numbering close to 1 million in Canada, particularly their tuition fees and the money that they bring into the country. The tuition fee revenues freed governments from the obligation to provide adequate funding to post-secondary institutions. Colleges and universities, for their part, used international student funding to avoid difficult, painful decisions related to the level of provincial support (the territories are not strongly affected by these processes).

The current controversy reflects more than a decade of poor and ineffective federal policies. Canada opened the gates for immigration, reaching unprecedented levels of refugees, formal immigrants, and hundreds of thousands of international students. Making matters worse, a Statistics Canada report released in November of 2023 found that the number of postsecondary students actually enrolled at Canadian Universities was 20% to 30% smaller than the total number of individuals with international student visa’s. Pointing to significant abuse of the study permit system, the report states, “It is unclear whether [the international ‘students’] stayed in Canada and, if so, what their main activities were.”

Our rapidly rising population is now blamed, not always accurately, for a serious national housing shortage and sky-rocketing prices, particularly in the major cities. The international student debate highlights the shocking shortcomings of the nation’s approach to housing and the absence of a thoughtful plan for population growth and rapid urbanization.

Bad federal policy is more than matched by poor provincial decisions, particularly in Ontario.  The Liberal and Progressive Conservative administrations in Ontario have underfunded colleges and universities, dramatically so, relative to the other provinces and territories.  Frozen tuition fees only added to institutional fiscal challenges. Several provinces, again led by Ontario, doubled down by authorizing many for-profit private colleges, most operating in league with public universities and colleges, to recruit international students. At the provincial level, the influx of international students, coupled with high tuition fees, masked the deficiencies of provincial funding, leaving underlying financial challenges unaddressed.

Colleges and universities had bad policies of their own.  Without the government funding to meet their salary, administrative and capital costs, post-secondary institutions became addicted to international student fees, the crack cocaine of advanced education.  Dozens of colleges and universities, enrolled thousands of international students, feeding the bottom line but increasing the reliance on international students and high tuition fees.  They assumed, over-optimistically, that the steady flow of international students would never slow, let alone stop. They are now paying the price for that miscalculation.

Some institutions, particularly small institutions in northern and small-town locations, eve established satellite facilities in big cities to capitalize on strong student demand and to supplement small and stagnant enrollments on the home campus. International students and satellite operations were lifelines for institutions that would otherwise be in severe difficulty.

The Government of Canada’s response to the convergence of multiple bad policy streams consists of additional bad policy decisions. International student visas have been slashed by 35% and student-friendly work permit arrangements have been cut back dramatically. Canada’s once wide-open doors for international students have been partially closed.  A carefully cultivated reputation for being receptive to foreign students has been degraded, if not dismantled, in one quick federal move.

The federal policy, announced with seemingly little coordination with provincial authorities and institutions, is a plainly political move, an urgent step taken by a Liberal government reeling in the polls. The decision was released in January 2024, at a key stage in the international student cycle. Colleges, public and private, are vulnerable to dramatic shifts in enrollment and they now face catastrophic losses of income. The implications go much further.  Residences will want for students and employers of the eager international students will struggle to find replacements.  Many college and university faculty and staff, particularly vulnerable short-term and sessional workers, will likely lose their jobs. And the national economy will lose out on a big portion of the billions of dollars spent annually by the international students.

The problem has been years in the making. The government may have been trying to make up for lost time but the hasty federal decision has already had an impact. Colleges and universities are already reporting sharp drops in applications. The message that Canada is no longer friendly for international students is out globally. The damage to student enrollment might be greater than anticipated.

A more appropriate approach would have been to announce a gradual reduction, starting in 2025, giving the colleges and universities time to adjust to a potential fiscal disaster. Another sensible alternative could have been to take aim at the abuse of the student visa system and to ensure those who entered the country under a study permit were actually enrolled in and attending classes. Bad policy often comes from knee-jerk reactions to political processes; good policy takes careful thought and, often, time.

Canada’s large international student recruitment industry brought billions of dollars into the Canadian economy.  Thousands of students worked while they studied and made successful transitions to permanent resident status.  Many people who came to Canada as high fee-paying students have become Canadian citizens and taxpayers.  The students followed the rules, as did the colleges and universities that capitalized on clear and long-standing government policy. The federal and provincial policies may have been poorly designed and inappropriate, but governments set the parameters and expectations and shouldn’t punish others for their shortsightedness.

Bad policy, to be succinct, is no solution for bad policy, but that is what is happening to international student education in Canada.

Ken Coates is a distinguished fellow and director of Indigenous affairs at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a professor of Indigenous governance at Yukon University.

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Economy

Prosperity waning due to Ottawa’s misguided population growth policy

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From the Fraser Institute

By Jock Finlayson

Federal ministers have finally acknowledged that soaring immigration has aggravated the housing affordability crisis and put added pressure on stretched public services.

Last week, in response to growing concern about fast-rising immigration levels, the Trudeau government announced it will cap the number of international student permits over the next two years. Canada’s population increased by 1.2 million last year, following a gain approaching one million in 2022, with these increases almost entirely due to immigration.

The most striking feature of the international migration data is the vertiginous rise in the number of “non-permanent residents” (NPRs). They have accounted for most of the newcomers arriving in Canada since 2020, dwarfing the ranks of new permanent immigrants. NPRs consist of temporary foreign workers and international students (many of whom also work), along with smaller numbers of asylum seekers and refugees, together with some of their families. The stock of NPRs has skyrocketed under the Trudeau government, reaching 2.5 million last year. This means one in every 16 people walking Canada’s streets is a “temporary” immigrant; in some large metro areas, the NPR share is significantly higher.

The federal government’s slapdash handling of immigration has caused problems for other levels of government. The dramatic increase of NPRs occurred without any advance notice, coordination or planning with the provinces, let alone the cities where most newcomers settle. After waving the issue away, federal ministers have finally acknowledged that soaring immigration has aggravated the housing affordability crisis and put added pressure on stretched public services. Remarkably, until last week’s announcement, there had been no federal government limit on student visas and no meaningful oversight of the rapidly expanding international education “industry,” which has largely driven the surge in NPRs.

In addition to the effects on housing demand and public services, Canada’s booming population has contributed to an erosion of prosperity, as measured by the value of economic output on a per-person basis. Nationally, per-person GDP fell by at least two per cent last year and is set for a repeat performance in 2024. Canada is getting poorer, even as our population increases faster than in any other developed country.

Why has the Trudeau government been so keen to turbo-charge population growth? The principal reason cited by federal ministers is to offset the effects of aging. Canada is indeed getting older, like every other developed country. Unfortunately, economic research finds that immigration has relatively little impact on the age structure of the population over time. Nor does it have a measurable influence—either positive or negative—on average incomes, wages or productivity. Simply put, most published academic research suggests that neither population size nor immigration are significantly correlated with higher levels of GDP per person.

It follows that Canada’s current economic development strategy—one premised on strong population growth—is unlikely to increase average incomes or living standards. It’s worth noting that many of the most affluent countries actually have small-to-modest-sized populations. According to the CIA World Factbook, of the 25 richest countries as measured by GDP per person, only one (the United States) is home to more than 20 million people. Among the 30 richest countries, just three meet the 20 million population threshold.

Ultimately, prosperity does not primarily depend on population size. It’s far more important for countries to be productive and innovative, to nurture entrepreneurial wealth creation, to build high-quality workforces, and establish and maintain well-functioning institutions. To improve incomes and living standards, Canadian policymakers should direct their efforts to these areas.

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