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CAUT Bulletin Archives

June 2015

Post-secondary sector glad to see no cuts in Manitoba budget

Manitoba Finance Minister Greg Dewar’s first budget received a nod of approval from post-secon­dary groups across the province for investment commitments, while in other provinces, cuts and austerity measures have been the rule.

Similar to the past two years, the budget tabled on April 30 allocated another 2.5 per cent in funding for universities and a 2 per cent increase for colleges.

Mark Hudson, president of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association, said that with the landscape of cuts and freezes across other provinces, the government’s stay-the-course increase acknowledges that investment in post-secondary education makes sound economic and social sense.

“But Manitoba continues to lag in terms of university funding over the long term,” he added. “Between 2000–2001 and 2012–2013, provincial grant funding increased at a rate well below the already slow national average. Operating revenue per full-time student actually fell by 2 per cent, and is the second lowest in Canada.”

As a result of the low grant, the U of M passed its 2015–2016 budget on May 19 with overall cuts of approximately 4 per cent, which is in addition to the 5 per cent reduction imposed last year.

“Academic staff, along with student groups and other campus unions, have repudiated the pro­posed budget cuts and are parti­cu­larly critical of the administra­tion’s budget process since programs and sections look to be reduced or eliminated with predictably negative effects on the campus commu­nity,” Hudson said. “It’s impos­sible to imagine how cuts of this mag­ni­tude won’t impact seriously on our pro­grams, course offerings and class sizes.”

Dewar also pitched several policies in his budget to ease some of the financial constraints on students including, a tuition fee income tax rebate that returns up to 60 per cent of tuition fees to students who choose to live and work in Manitoba, and the elimination of interest on post-secondary loans. The change to no interest is projected to cost the province about $1 million a year.

Canadian Federation of Students-Manitoba chairperson Michael Barkman said he was pleased to see action on interest relief.

“Students across the province celebrated the government’s announcement,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction for accessible and affordable post-secondary education in Manitoba.”

Manitoba is the first province in Western Canada to take the no-interest measure.