Universities and colleges around the province are going to get a $348-million shot in the arm as part of a new multi-billion-dollar federal economic stimulus package.

The $2-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Package is a two-year program that will help support infrastructure enhancement at post-secondary schools around Canada, with the University of Alberta alone getting about $54 million.

Minister of State Gary Goodyear complimented the efforts of both school and government officials on the use of the economic aid that will go to creating 2,500 jobs that will help build and maintain the infrastructure additions.

“We feel we need to do what we can right now to create jobs,” said Goodyear. “But also we don’t want to get derailed on our science and technology strategy.”

Goodyear said that the program will be introduced in two waves, with bigger projects being fast tracked for the first round and smaller ones getting funding in the second portion.

“Some of the applicants … are being saved for the second round,” explained Goodyear.

“We obviously want to create jobs for Canadians but also the best facilities for science.”

University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera said that this money will go a long way to maintaining the school’s reputation as a modern centre for education.

“This will make a tremendous difference across our campus,” said Samarasekera. “It’s never exciting to put up a roof ... but that sort of maintenance is critical for the long-term stability.”

The Province of Alberta is proving an additional $75.6 million in funding towards the university.

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