This is from the CCPA Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The Feds reduction in funding for colleges has placed poorer provinces in a difficult position as they must make up the difference even if they are just to keep funding at the same levels. I don't know where they get the figure that one in four children in Manitoba is aboriginal. That seems rather high although certainly birth rates among aboriginals are much higher than in the general public and among those in their seventies such as myself.
University and College Education is an Election Issue
Filed under: Education — ccpamb @ 10:44 am
Like other public services, universities and colleges in Manitoba went through tough times in the 1990s. Federal and provincial funding cuts paved the way for a 130% increase in tuition fees, declining enrolment, the elimination of bursaries and grants for students, faculty and staff strikes, and deteriorating infrastructure.
In 1999, the provincial government changed direction.
Tuition fees were reduced by ten percent and have been frozen ever since. Students in Manitoba now pay the third-lowest tuition fees in Canada. There are other benefits: the freeze has contributed to huge enrolment increases (35 percent since 2000) and provincial grants to universities and colleges have risen by nearly 60% under the freeze.
However, there is no denying that more funding increases are required both to make education more affordable and end the legacy of the 1990s-$7 billion in federal funding cuts to transfers for education and training.
Federal cash transfers to Manitoba made up only 15 percent of funding for post-secondary education in 2005, compared to 25 percent in 1993. Provincial funding increases have helped prevent further decay, but these pale in comparison to tax cuts. The provincial government must set its priorities straight.
In the absence of a government plan for public universities and colleges, the public debate on post-secondary education is dominated by the privatisation-friendly local press. For example, you may have heard that the tuition fee freeze constitutes a subsidy by low-income Manitobans to the wealthy and that tuition fees are not an important barrier to participation in university and college by low income students. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Tuition fees and student loan payments punish those who can least afford to pay by privatising the costs of education: the less money you have, the bigger proportion of your income tuition fees make up. That’s why, for every $1000 in tuition fees increases, low-income students are 19 percent less likely to complete their post-secondary education.
While it is true that students from high-income backgrounds are more likely to go to university, high-income earners in Canada pay more taxes over their lifetime. Low-income families pay less tax and benefit more from affordable university and college education, the way it should be.G
Governments allow tuition fees to rise and fund education inadequately because they fail to prioritise a strong public post-secondary education system. They ignore the fact that post-secondary education provides benefits to society as a whole, not just the individual. In Manitoba, where one in four children is Aboriginal, providing access to high quality public education is crucial. Even in narrow economic terms, post-secondary education creates vital social capital, and post-secondary graduates generate most of Canada’s income tax revenue.
A 2006 poll by Viewpoints Research showed that 82 percent of Manitobans agreed or strongly agreed that tuition fee reductions benefit everyone. An equal percentage of middle-income respondents expressed support for the continuation of the tuition fee freeze. In the same poll, nearly half of those polled said that they would be more likely to vote for a party that makes accessible post-secondary education a priority.
But polls don’t mean a thing unless we demonstrate our support for education publicly. Make accessible, well-funded post-secondary education an issue when candidates are at your door!