MOFA: Manitoba Budget receives a failing grade for universities
Budget cuts will jeopardize the future of post-secondary education
“Years of freezes and cuts to post-secondary funding by the Pallister government jeopardize the future of our universities,” said Scott Forbes President of the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA) in response to today’s provincial budget. The budget reduces grants to universities and colleges by $8.7 million, a cut of 1.3%, which will result in reduced program offerings and increased tuition fees for students and their families. These cuts include a 1.75% funding cut to our province’s largest institution, the University of Manitoba.
“This is a tone-deaf budget from a government that cuts education and health care to pay for tax cuts in the middle of a pandemic,” said Forbes. “MOFA is disappointed but not entirely surprised by Mr. Pallister’s continued defunding of higher education. It has become one of the hallmarks of this government, driving up tuition fees, and putting post-secondary education out of reach for more and more Manitobans. It especially harms women, who make up the majority of university students, and disadvantages historically marginalized groups, including people of colour, Indigenous students, and new Manitobans.”
Manitoba is near the bottom of the country in participation rate in higher education. This budget will only make that worse. Mr. Pallister seems to believe that only the wealthy should go to university, so if you can’t pay, you can’t stay. This will drive away students from low and middle income families who bear the burden of ever higher tuitions and growing debt loads.
“At the University of Manitoba alone, students are facing tuition fee increases of 3.75%, while the province continues to cut funding for our largest institution,” said MOFA Vice President, Orvie Dingwall. “We fail to understand the PC strategy of cutting funding when the need for a university education has never been greater. In addition to a 1.75% cut for the University of Manitoba, The Rady Faculty of Health is specifically facing a 1.75% funding cut when the services of nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors, and other health professionals are needed more than ever.”
Manitobans should know that this chronic underfunding will likely result in reduced program offerings, more layoffs, and potentially even fewer universities. Last spring, the Pallister government revealed plans for 30% cuts to our institutions. These were only stopped by the public outcry against this misguided policy. However, with this budget Pallister moves another step closer toward his goal of cutting funding for higher education by nearly a third. Our smaller universities are already close to the financial edge. More budgets like this could push them over the cliff.
“This government is out of touch with Manitobans. It’s time for them to listen to those most affected: students and their families, and faculty on the frontlines” said Forbes. “Universities should lead the way in our post-pandemic economic recovery: this budget makes that more difficult than ever. Brian Pallister and his cabinet just don’t seem to understand the value of Manitoba’s universities.”