MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith: U of A Pilot program

Opinion, MLA Mark Smith

Sometimes Government is at its best when it thinks outside the box and provides targeted funding to help the citizens it represents. Recently the Alberta Government made a one-time investment of $714,000 over two years to fund a veteran-friendly campus pilot program at the University of Alberta. I believe that this targeted funding to help our veterans is going to be money well spent. Alberta is leading the way by supporting one of the first veteran-friendly campus models in the country. This investment complements and strengthens other post-secondary supports, helping more veterans access the education they need to transition from military service to a civilian career.

The University of Alberta is currently exploring the needs of veteran students and their families in consultation with veterans, active service members, Veteran Affairs Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion, post-secondary institutions and researchers. This review will help inform the veteran-friendly campus model, and students who are veteran can expect to access supports and resources in the 2021-22 academic year. The program is presently under development, but we encourage students to reach out to the university with questions through the U of A student connect website, or by emailing the Dean of Students office at dosdean@ualberta.ca.

Students of history will remember that as WW II ended our veterans came home and were able to receive Government funding to go to a post-secondary institution to receive the training they needed to transition into a successful peace time career. This program, in some ways, is an echo of that WWII program as it is designed to help veterans have a successful post-secondary experience. Post-secondary education is key to helping those who risked their lives to defend our country find success in other professions once their service has ended. Many of our veterans have unique needs to support their learning. The pilot veteran-friendly campus initiative at the University of Alberta provides specialized support to help veterans achieve their educational goals. The pilot initiative will support one of the first veteran campus models in Canada, with the other based in the University of British Columbia.

Healthy campuses benefit us all, and veterans have transferable knowledge, skills and experiences that enrich the campus community for all students, staff and faculty.

This investment will provide a sustainable model that institutions from across Alberta can replicate, enabling veterans to access supportive campuses close to home. This program will also leverage best practices to provide world-class integrated support and services for veterans, helping Alberta to attract top students from across the country. Lastly, I believe that this is a good use of tax payers dollars promoting a veteran friendly campus seems to me to be a start in saying thank you to those who have served us so well.

— Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley – Devon