Students, faculty, call on Pallister to put more money on the kitchen table
Use unspent money to prevent skyrocketing tuition fees and drastic budget cuts
Winnipeg- The Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA) and the Canadian Federation of Students Manitoba (CFS-MB) are calling on the Pallister government to use unspent funds from the 2020 fiscal year to prevent unnecessary tuition fee hikes and funding cuts in this year’s budget. Last year, the Pallister government announced a $120 million dollar student support program; however only $18.7 million was ever spent. In this year’s budget, the province slashed funding to universities and colleges by $8.7 million, which caused tuition fees to increase by 3.75% at the University of Manitoba.
“Clearly the Pallister government had the fiscal room to hold the line on funding for higher education,” said Scott Forbes, MOFA President. “But instead they chose to continue their policy of cutting funding to universities at the worst possible time, driving up tuition fees, making university more expensive and less accessible for Manitoba students.”
With over $100 million of the Summer Student Recovery Plan unspent, the Pallister government could have frozen tuition fees, and not cut higher education funding for a meager $20 million. Had the government actually chosen to match inflation, the cost would only rise to $35 million. If Brian Pallister and Minister Wayne Ewasko had wanted to make life easier for students, they could have spent $50 million and have increased funding and reduced tuition fees. The unspent funds from the Summer Student Recovery Plan are not new expenses- they were budgeted for, but just not spent.
“From the first day this government took office, they’ve made it their mission to make life less affordable for students,” said Brenden Gali, CFS-MB Chairperson. “Additionally, we’ve learned that changes to the Rental Tax Credit will mean even less money for students as they struggle with increasing tuition fees, Hydro rates and costs of living. This government has a chance to invest in our young people to ensure that they don’t fall through the cracks.”
Since taking office, the Pallister government has scrapped the tuition freeze allowing for fees to increase each and every year, eliminated the tuition tax rebate for graduates staying in Manitoba and slashed funding to post-secondary education by 13% with inflation. This brings the government closer and closer to their plans to reduce funding for universities by 30%, which was announced last year.
As part of this statement, MOFA has commissioned a cartoon by Winnipeg artist Andrew Kohan demonstrating the financial hardships felt by students. Media may use this cartoon in their stories with proper credit.