For the next three years, the University of Alberta is getting the same amount of mental health funding from the province as it got last year.

At a press conference at MacEwan University today, Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt announced that a total of about $2.6 million will go to post-secondary institutions in Edmonton annually for the next three years. Of that amount, the U of A will receive $1 million per year.

Today’s announcement follows the commitment the Government of Alberta made back in July when it announced it would spend $25.8 million on mental health funding in post-secondary over the next three years, with the money distributed through a per-student model.

According to a press release from the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union, the funding the U of A will receive works out to be about $27.50 per student. Larsen said that they would’ve liked to see it closer to $40.00 per student.

Schmidt explained that when determining the amount funding for each institution, factors considered included the student population and the level of mental health supports currently available.

“What we’re really focused on is putting the sort of community care pieces in place so that students at the U of A who need that additional support will have access to it,” Schmidt said.

Students’ Union vice-president (external) Reed Larsen said this funding means that the U of A will be able to maintain the same level of services over the year. He hoped, however, that the U of A would’ve gotten an increase of about half a million dollars, which would’ve been proportional to the funding increases other institutions received.

Despite that, Larsen said that he understood how budgets are a concern across the province, and that the Students’ Union was happy with the amount of funding the U of A received.

Students’ Union president Marina Banister was also happy about the funding announcement but said that making sure services stay on campus will be a concern as they continue to work with the government on the issue of mental health funding.

“We heard loud and clear from students that maintaining those services on campus is very important,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of the article implied that post-secondary mental health funding was only renewed for one year. It has been changed to reflect the fact that funding has been renewed for the next three years.

Image courtesy of Papa Gyeke-Lartey
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