Progressive Conservatives hold line on post-secondary funding

Brian Pallister at an election campaign event on post-secondary education. Photo by Garett Williams

In its first provincial budget since being elected to office in April, the Manitoba Progressive Conservative government held steady on post-secondary funding.

Released on May 31, the provincial budget will increase university operating grants slightly by 2.5 per cent, while colleges will see a two per cent bump. The government also committed to implementing the master of social work in indigenous knowledges program at the University of Manitoba.

Overall, education and training funding will increase by $37 million, or 1.4 per cent, according to a provincial release.

Canadian Federation of Students-Manitoba (CFS-MB) chairperson Michael Barkman said he was reassured to see the new government maintain support for post-secondary education in line with commitments made by the previous government, including holding tuition rate increases to the level of inflation.

“It was something that we were asking [for] throughout the election campaign and in the first months in government, so that was good to see,” he said.

“We’re hopeful – and we’ll continue to push over the rest of their mandate – that they continue to fund post-secondary education and increase their commitment to education in Manitoba,” he added.

The Progressive Conservatives made little mention of a post-secondary education platform throughout the spring election campaign, beyond a commitment to bolster the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Fund.

“The University of Manitoba welcomes the increase to funding for post-secondary education, so critical to the future prosperity and competitiveness of this province,” said U of M president and vice-chancellor David Barnard in a release.

“We will continue to advocate for a vibrant post-secondary and innovation sector and to work with the government where possible to deliver solutions that benefit the people of this province.”

University of Manitoba Faculty Association president Mark Hudson said while he is pleased the new government didn’t roll back funding pledged by the previous government, overall support for post-secondary in Manitoba is down.

“We have a lot further to go to ensure accessible, affordable, and high-quality post-secondary education in this province,” he said.