Conservatives cut post-secondary funding yet again

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative-led government has cut post-secondary operating grants for the third year in a row.

The budget includes a one per cent reduction in the provincial sales tax as well as a $25-per-tonne carbon tax. An emergency supplement to the budget was made to bring the province’s rainy-day fund to $800 million in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Post-secondary institutions, responsibility for which was moved from the education minister to the minister of economic development and training in October, have had their grant assistance cut by roughly $7.5 million — nearly one per cent — for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

For each of the past two years following similar cuts, the U of M has adopted tuition hikes of 6.6 per cent and 3.75 per cent, respectively, to help offset the decreases in government funding.

The university is expected to unveil this year’s budget in the coming months.

There is no word yet from the university on whether tuition will follow the pattern set over the last two years and increase again this fall.

UMSU president Jakob Sanderson called the cuts “unsurprising but deeply harmful.”

“The provincial government thinks it can run a province without consultation with any meaningful community from students to administrators, to nurses to First Nations to the business community and beyond,” Sanderson said in an email.

“Cutting funding to our leading education institution as we are going to need vital research and innovation to solve this crisis and kickstart our economy is dangerously short-sighted,” he continued.

“I have come to expect this from the Pallister government however. The only thing dropping faster than funding for vital services is my level of surprise at their woeful decisions.”