Funding slashed for Manitoba Institute for Policy Research

Discussions with government continue, outcome uncertain

The Manitoba Institute for Policy Research, a provincial public policy think tank out of the University of Manitoba’s political studies department, has halted most of its activities after its funding dried up last month.

The Manitoba Institute for Policy Research (MIPR) has been a fixture in the province’s public policy circles for the last four years, facilitating debates and networking opportunities for policy wonks and interested individuals.

For the past four years, MIPR has been funded through a Manitoba government grant that was then matched by the U of M’s office of the vice-president research, the department of political studies, and the faculty of arts.

The latest two-year funding agreement ran out on June 30, with the various parties failing to renew funds for the institute.

“This request [for funding] was discussed within various departments of government over the course of eight months, and was ultimately not funded,” the institute wrote in a statement.

“A follow-up request for bridging funding is still in process with the government of Manitoba and with the office of the vice-president research […] While all involved have expressed support for the activities undertaken by the institute, MIPR will not continue in its current form, with its current activities or purposes.”

Among its central activities included three monthly outreach events: the Policy, Pizza, and a Pint events at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café, the Café Politique series at McNally Robinson Booksellers, and the Take Away lunch and learn events for provincial civil servants.

The institute also conducted original research, including a website on financing post-secondary education. It published two academic journals, including the undergraduate peer-reviewed Manitoba Policy Perspectives Student Journal and the policy section of the Manitoba Law Journal: Underneath the Golden Boy.

“The institute did a fantastic job of bringing together academics, practitioners in public policy, [and] citizens to have discussions and to become more informed about issues facing Manitobans and Canadians,” said Andrea Rounce, associate professor in the department of political studies at the U of M and the academic director of the MIPR.

According to Rounce, the institute will seek to continue its work on the journals and post-secondary education website.

However, all social activities have came to an end as of June 30 and the MIPR, which once had a complement of two staff and three research assistants, will no longer be a campus employer.

“There were certainly lots of opportunities for students to build networks and skills and to apply some of the research that they were doing to more real world connections, so it is a loss from that perspective, for sure,” Rounce said.

Rounce remains hopeful that the MIPR will be able to continue with some of its operations going forward and may receive funding renewal from the province and the university once current discussions between the various parties reach a compromise point.

“There are still discussions that are ongoing between the university and the government of Manitoba,” Rounce said.

“I am not part of those discussions, but they are ongoing so it’s entirely possible that there will be an MIPR that continues on, but it’s unclear at this point what it will look like [and] what its mandate might be.”