FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is partnering with an institute at the University of New Brunswick to perform a benefits analysis of two initiatives meant to enhance learning and economic opportunities for children, students and families.

The New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training, which is dedicated to advancing public policy research, will conduct a long-term study of programs offering tuition relief and early learning opportunities. The study will provide evidence-based research that tracks program performance and benefits in terms of health and wealth. It will also look at the advantages those programs provide to the province overall.

“With the right support, we believe families, children and youth can build a strong and prosperous New Brunswick,” said Post-Secondary Education Minister Roger Melanson. “We are removing barriers to child care and education so that all New Brunswickers can build careers and invest in themselves and their communities. This research will help us adapt and improve our programs to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. We are proud to work with the institute on this important study.”

“This agreement is a clear indication that the Government of New Brunswick is serious about using the best evidence available to guide policy development for the benefit of New Brunswickers,” said institute director Ted McDonald. “The partnership between the government and the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training is unique in Canada and sets an example for other provinces to follow the great benefits that can come about from such a collaboration between policy-makers and academics.”

Details of the study and its rationale are included in the report Tuition Relief and Early Learning: A Benefits Analysis.

This study builds on previous agreements laid out in legislation that enables public bodies to store prepared data sets at the institute. The data used for research has been collected by government departments and agencies but all directly identifying information (such as name, address and Medicare number) has been removed.

The Office of the Integrity Commissioner, formerly the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner, is supportive of the work conducted at the institute and has reviewed the operations of the research centre.

Researchers will only have access to the minimum amount of raw data necessary to conduct their work. The facility has a closed computer network without Internet access, and the institute uses a wide range of security and audit measures to ensure that data is only accessed for the approved purpose.

The study will include the Free Tuition Program, Tuition Relief for the Middle Class, and the New Brunswick Early Learning Centre program. These initiatives target low- and middle-income families.