The scythe of our provincial government has struck again and, this time, the cut is almost perfectly clean.
Readers from outside Quebec may not be aware that our provincial government has been issuing major cuts in the past few months. On April 23rd, 2014, Philippe Couillard, head of the Liberal Party, became Prime Minister of Quebec. I was proud to see a former head of neurosurgery become such an influential political leader. If one thing could be guaranteed, I mistakenly thought, it was integrity to our health care and education systems.
Our health care system is in the midst of a dire reorganization, which will take effect in April of 2015. Meanwhile, close to 5500 scientists and science support staff have recently signed a petition to remind the Liberal government that, in this period of austerity, science should not end up on the chopping block (see the article from La Presse, in French).
Yesterday, French-language newspaper Le Devoir (among others) was reporting that 15 French-language entities devoted to public science communication in Quebec would see their governmental funds either cut down to nearly nothing or axed completely.
- Le Conseil du loisir et du développement scientifique will lose 40% of its budget;
- Les Publications BLD, publishers of three magazines aimed at youths, will lose their 175 000$ fund;
- L’Agence Science-Presse will lose all government help, meaning a loss of 70% of its total budget;
- L’ACFAS, dedicated to promoting knowledge to the French-speaking community, will lose 300 000$;
- Science Pour Tous will lose over 100 000$;
- The new magazine Curium, aimed at 14-17-year-olds, will lose its 59 000$ support.
The amount that is being taken out of public science education totals 312 000$, not much in the eye of a provincial government, I would argue, but oh-so-precious to the people who devote their lives to bringing science education to the public in spite of already thin budgets.
How is Philippe Couillard’s government justifying this cut?
“The budgets are not cut,” said the press agent of the Minister Jacques Daoust (translated from the French by yours truly). “We prefer to reach an even larger group of young people by improving the links between students and private enterprises. We believe the needs are greater on that end.”
When I voted Liberal at our last election, I didn’t expect to be voting Conservative.
Cracked Science is not funded by the Quebec government (it is, at the time of this writing, not funded, period), but I do feel for my more professional colleagues who have accomplished so much with so little. Want to support them?
***Les publications BLD, who publish Les Débrouillards and Les Explorateurs, has a petition up on the Web. I would invite you to make your voice heard by clicking here***
Funding public science communication entirely through business partnerships invites bias and undue influence. This is why government support is so important.
More info on the topic (all links in French):
(Feature picture by alesfuck)