Manitoba Budget Supports Post-Secondary Education

Tuition fee rebate, increased funding, scholarships all on offer

WINNIPEG (CUP) — The Manitoba budget released April 4 provides $10.2 million in bursaries and scholarships and officially implements a 60 per cent tax rebate for students who remain in Manitoba after graduation.

?In terms of education, It’s a step in the right direction,? said Garry Sran, president of the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU). ?we’re definitely pleased.?

According to Greg Selinger, minister of finance, the new budget focuses on the province’s priorities and long-term goals that include ?affordable, quality education and training . . . making Manitoba a more attractive place for youth? and initiatives that include a greener economy, building roads and highways, addressing environmental issues, and improving health care.

?When we came into office, our hospitals, schools and universities were under terrible strain, requiring significant reinvestment to make up for years of under-funding and neglect,? said Selinger during the budget address.

?University and college enrolment is up by one-third in Manitoba, supported by a 10 per cent tuition reduction for students,? he said.

Selinger announced the continuation of the 10 per cent tuition fee reduction in the new budget and added, ?as we have done in every year, we are providing fully offsetting revenue to universities and colleges, tied directly to enrolment–a total of $95 million since 2000.?

In 2006, the provincial government announced a $60 million commitment to post-secondary education to be carried out over three years. Last year’s budget had promised a five per cent funding increase for 2007-08, but the province will actually increase funding by seven per cent.

The Manitoba government was ?disappointed that the recent federal budget did not fully restore the post-secondary education funding that was cut beginning in 1996,? Selinger said.

Sran said that UMSU is going to continue pressuring the federal government for funding and will try to make sure the amounts allotted to post-secondary education in the 2007 federal budget will be implemented in 2008.

?The Canadian Federation of Students commends the Doer government for listening to Manitoba students and their families,? stated Rachel Gotthilf, Manitoba representative for the Canadian Federation of Students in a press release.

?Students will benefit from the 2007 provincial budget, both in the quality of education and accessibility, but we will continue to lobby all parties in Manitoba for affordable high quality post-secondary education,? stated Gotthilf, who is also an UMSU vice-president.

?we’re pleased the government lived up to its promises,? Sran said.

The new budget also includes a pledge of up to $25 million to the University of Winnipeg and investments in Red River College’s new Princess Street campus.

Officially implemented with the new budget is a tax rebate of up to 60 per cent of a graduate’s tuition over six years if they remain in the province. The plan, modeled after a similar initiative in New Brunswick, is meant to keep youth in Manitoba, while helping to relieve tuition costs.

Saskatchewan’s 2007-08 budget also includes a graduate tax exemption for up to $10,000 per year, or $50,000 during the first five years after a student graduates.