MOFA: Reyes must follow the evidence and reject performance-based-funding

Nov 30, 2022 | News

Premier has previously pledged to walk back PBF in November 15th throne speech

Winnipeg – The Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations (MOFA) is calling on the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Jon Reyes to confirm that his ministry will honour Premier Heather Stefanson’s word and reject both the Tennessee model and performance-based funding. This call comes as Manitoba’s university faculty, students, staff and administrators have been united in their opposition to performance-based-funding (PBF) schemes. The evidence shows that these policies generate more harm than good, as PBF produces no tangible benefits while discouraging students from traditionally marginalized groups from accessing higher education.

“It’s rare to see consensus amongst faculty, students, staff and university administrators, but we have a united front in opposition to the harmful policy of performance-based funding,” said Dr. Allison McCulloch, MOFA Vice President. “MOFA has consistently provided an evidence-based critique of these policies, as they have proven to only worsen the outcomes they intend to improve. We don’t understand why the government continues to pursue this policy, with no one from the sector calling for it.”

In her throne speech press conference on November 15th, Premier Heather Stefanson stated “we need to take a bit of a step back” when asked if she would continue to pursue PBF. After the throne speech, MOFA sought confirmation of this policy change from the department of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration. When the department would not confirm that policy change, MOFA wrote directly to Minister Jon Reyes on November 23rd, again seeking confirmation that he would follow the premier’s direction. The Minister has not yet responded.

“The Minister has emphasized repeatedly the importance of accountability in the university sector, yet fails to be accountable when the future of higher education is on the line,” said Scott Forbes, MOFA President. “Our universities are a cornerstone of economic development and key to creating the opportunities that keep our youth in our province. It is difficult to understand why from day one this government has set out to undermine the university sector. They have done this by raising tuition fees, slashing public funding, unlawfully meddling in collective bargaining, provoking two strikes at the University of Manitoba, and passing legislation that allows the minister to take away a student’s choice over their program of study. It’s time to change course on all of these regressive policies, and Minister Jon Reyes can start by stating clearly and unequivocally that he will abandon performance-based funding.”

In June, Minister Reyes’s department held consultations with faculty, students, staff, and university administrators in the province on performance-based funding. University and college faculty members, alongside students, soundly rejected the premise of PBF. In August, University of Manitoba President Michael Benarroch warned that these policies would “have the effect of punishing institutions for building programs that may not connect directly to these specific metrics, such as those that address equity and social justice.” However, the Minister has refused to release the results of these consultations, despite promises that it would be released first in October, and then again in November. 

“We need a strong and viable vision for post-secondary education in Manitoba, one that prioritizes access and invests in our province’s future,” said McCulloch. “With a stroke of a pen, the Minister could abandon performance-based-funding and demonstrate that his government will listen to faculty, students, and university administrators on this crucial issue.”

MOFA represents over 2,000 faculty and academic staff at the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, Brandon University and Université de Saint-Boniface.

MOFA has also presented to the minister an extensive brief of the perils of PBF, which is available here