NDP 2011 Budget

Students and universities in the province of Manitoba should be happy with the provincial NDP’s 2011 budget.

The budget will link the rate of tuition increase with inflation, this means that Manitoba students can expect to pay about one to two per cent more for their education this September, as opposed to the five per cent or higher some students and organizations had feared.

In order to offset what Rosann Wowchuk, the Minister of Finance, called “low tuitions,” the provincial government will also implement a multi-year plan to help universities cover the cost of operations.

This plan will see university operating grants increase substantially over the next three years.

Both Alanna Makinson, the Manitoba chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, and UMSU President Heather Laube felt that the 2011 budget represented a step in the right direction.

Laube said that this budget represents “good news” for students. “For a number of years students have been encouraging the provincial government to look at their policies on tuition fees and tuition fee regulation.”

“I think [this budget] gives students an idea of how tuition fees are going to be increasing.”

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives liked what they saw in the budget in regards to post secondary education, but both felt that the NDP’s initiatives were adaptations of their own policies.

Jon Gerrard, leader of the liberals said that his party “were leaders in having a tuition increase which is only the rate of inflation.”

Erin Selby, the newly appointed Minster of Advanced Education, felt that her party did a good job of balancing “affordability and accessibility” with sustainability for post secondary institutions.

Not directly related to education, but of interest to students none-the-less, the 2011 budget will allocate the equivalent of one seventh of the provincial sales tax, or about $239 million, to municipalities for use on infrastructure and transportation.

In Winnipeg this could mean more money spent on public transportation, including the city’s rapid transit plan, which the city says will eventually link the University of Manitoba with downtown.

When asked if she would like to see the new money put toward rapid transit in Winnipeg, Selby said that a lot of students have told her that rapid transit is a priority for them, and that those students would appreciate more convenient ways to get to school.