The 2015 Saskatchewan budget has included many cuts and changes to existing programs but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. In the area of advanced education, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) was one of the biggest beneficiaries.
SIIT received $428,000, a 24 per cent increase over last year’s budget, for operating costs. By comparison, the First Nations University of Canada, Gabriel Dumont Institute, Dumont Technical Institute, and the Northern Teacher Education Program/Northern Professional Access College (NORTEP/NORPAC) received a combined $210,000.
First Nations University of Canada and Dumont Technical Institute each received a two per cent increase in additional operating funding. Dumont Technical Institute and NORTEP/NORPAC each saw one percent increases in additional operating funding.
Kevin Doherty, minister for advanced education, explained that SIIT had reached out to the Saskatchewan government for assistance.
“They’re losing faculty members to other institutions because they’re not competitive with respect to their salaries,” Doherty said. “So, we were able to find an additional $400,000 to help them with their administration costs.”
SIIT also received help with the services they offer to students.
“As well, we have a $375,000 fund in there we started this fiscal year for student support services,” he said. “The president (Riel Bellegarde) made the compelling case that his biggest challenge is when he gets students at SIIT, he’s gotta be able to keep them there. His problem is once they move down from different First Nations in northern Saskatchewan, they have difficulty adjusting to life in Saskatoon or Prince Albert or wherever they’re going to school. So, this fund is intended to help them become acclimatized to these different areas they’re moving to. That will help (Bellegarde) keep students in school for graduation purposes.”
SIIT’s funding has increased by 121 per cent since 2007.