Despite the Premier’s claim that she intended to “take a bit of a step back” from the “Tennessee model” or performance-based funding, MOFA is still waiting for official confirmation that the government intends to actually stop this regressive policy. We have written to Minister Jon Reyes seeking clarification on this matter.
November 22, 2022
Dear Hon. Jon Reyes,
MLA for Waverly
Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration
In 2020 Premier Pallister proposed to introduce the Tennessee model of performance-based funding to the post-secondary sector in Manitoba. Since then, your department has been preparing to roll out this option. That process included the consultations with stakeholders in the summer of 2022. MOFA participated in those, and it was clear that all the stakeholder groups in that meeting (different groups representing faculty and teachers) were united in their opposition to this policy.
We also understand that students and university presidents also stand in opposition this policy and have noted the harmful effects of the Tennessee model and performance-based funding in general. We have presented our concerns in a policy brief – submitted to you — which relies upon peer-reviewed research, which is available on our website. After all this activity, we have yet to hear back from you on the results of these consultations, now four months later.
In the Throne Speech we were pleasantly surprised to hear Premier Heather Stefanson declare that your government will “take a bit of a step back” from performance-based funding. However, after seeking clarification from your department, we are unclear if your government intends to follow through on the Premier’s declaration.
Minister Reyes, this issue has loomed over the post-secondary sector for more than two years now. It creates confusion, chaos and uncertainty for students, administrators, staff, and faculty at the worst possible time, while we have dealt with, and are still dealing with, the enormous challenges of the ongoing pandemic. You have not yet presented any evidence that the Tennessee model – or any other incarnation of performance-based funding — would improve post-secondary education in Manitoba.
And both you and I know that your argument that performance funding is needed for fiscal oversight is a red herring. There are myriad ways to improve fiscal oversight that do not involve performance funding. If you and your department are unfamiliar with these, we would be happy to suggest a variety of alternatives. We agree that greater financial transparency would be beneficial for all.
You have repeatedly referenced the need for accountability in the post-secondary sector and this responsibility is no different for members of a provincial cabinet. We request an immediate and unambiguous confirmation that your department will honour the Premier’s declaration and indeed step back from this inimical performance funding initiative.
In higher education different groups and individuals routinely express diverse views on many issues: it is rare for faculty, students, staff, and university presidents to show unanimous agreement. That they do on this issue should send you a powerful message that this is a truly regressive policy.
Dr. Scott Forbes
CC: Eric Charron, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration
Jamie Moses, MLA for St. Vital and Official Opposition Critic for Advanced Education