Canadian Federation of Students

Canadian Federation of Students

February 15, 2005 14:44 ET

Auditor General Echoes Students' Concerns About Foundations

Millennium Scholarship Foundation cited for lack for accountability Attention: Assignment Editor, Education Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 15, 2005) - The Canadian Federation of Students' long-held concerns about the Millennium Scholarship Foundation have been further validated by the Auditor General of Canada. In a report tabled today in the House of Commons, her office has re-iterated concerns that billions of dollars of Canadians' money is being dumped into foundations that have little or no accountability to the public.

"We have long held the Auditor General's concern that the Millennium Scholarship Foundation operates far outside of the normal checks and balances of government," said George Soule, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "A handful of hand-picked board members rubber stamp the Foundation's activities, and there is no day-to-day public oversight for millions of dollars in spending."

The Millennium Scholarship Foundation was announced in the 1998 "education" budget. Although Paul Martin promised that student debt would be reduced by $3,000 per year for those in financial need, most students have seen virtually no student debt reduction.

Of equal concern, the Foundation also has a $10 million research budget that has largely escaped any public scrutiny.

The Canadian Federation of Students has recently raised concerns that a former senior employee of the Millennium Foundation may be personally benefiting from the research project. In 2003, former Foundation Director of Research Alex Usher moved to a previously unknown American think tank, the Educational Policy Institute. Shortly after Usher's move, the Institute began receiving lucrative research contracts from the Foundation.

Like other federal foundations, the Millennium Foundation is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. As a result, the Canadian Federation of Students has been prevented from determining the conditions under which Usher's company was awarded contracts.

"The Foundation has already conceded that several research contracts have been awarded without a procurement process, but because of its special status, Canadians may never know if the Foundation has used public funding to reward its friends," concluded Soule.

The Canadian Federation of Students is composed of more than 75 university and college students' unions, uniting over one half million students from St. John's to Victoria. Students in Canada have been represented by the Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations since 1927. IN: EDUCATION, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Michael Conlon, Director of Research, Canadian Federation of Students
    Primary Phone: 416-925-3825 ext. 27
    E-mail: research@cfs-fcee.ca