Two months after the Manitoba budget was unveiled, Education Minister Ian Wishart has revealed the across-the-board 0.9 per cent cuts to public universities and colleges represent a growth in administration the Tory government finds unacceptable.
Wishart told NDP education critic Matt Wiebe in his estimates hearing Wednesday the uniform reduction in operating grants equals the amount the province wants post-secondary administration reduced.
Premier Brian Pallister has also ordered a 15 per cent management cut throughout the public sector.
Quoted in the official Hansard transcript, Wishart said: "It applies in Manitoba all the way across the board, that all levels of government... We're leading by example in trying to reduce our administrative costs in many ways... (to) get the best value to the front line, but, in the long term, we are able to put our government in a position where we have long-term sustainability, which includes, of course, trying to reduce the deficit.
"So the 0.9 per cent that was used was an estimate of... how much administrative growth had taken place. And we were looking for the universities and the colleges to participate in reducing the upper-management costs and also to protect their front-line services. And we have worked very closely with them in terms of putting this in place," he said.
"I can tell you that most of them were very, very co-operative in this process, and, in fact, one or two of them have said it provided them with some opportunities to make some changes that they had been contemplating."
Wishart uniformly applied the 0.9 per cent cuts, however, the institutions' annual reports (which Wishart released in the winter) show there is a wide disparity among schools' reliance on government grants, compared to tuition and other sources of revenue.
The University of Manitoba gets 54.8 per cent of its revenue from government operating grants, the University of Winnipeg: 49.7 per cent, Brandon University: 62.4 per cent, Université de Saint-Boniface: 58 per cent, University College of the North: 77 per cent, Red River College: 52.6 per cent, and Assiniboine Community College: 61.4 per cent.