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This article was published 25/3/2019 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba government has cut Access funding for post-secondary institutions by $1 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year, and slashed a bursary program for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Access programs, which were put in place in 1972, are aimed at helping Indigenous and northern students get a post-secondary education.
In 2017-18, the province invested $11.3 million in such programs and earmarked $1.6 million for bursaries that were delivered to 210 students. This year, Access funding was rolled back to $10.3 million, and the bursaries were eliminated.
In a written statement sent to the Free Press, a provincial spokeswoman said the rollback was divided between two post-secondary institutions to ensure there was "minimal impact (on) students."
She also said the province’s decision to cut Access bursaries was part of a larger effort toward a "streamlined student financial aid" system, adding those funds would be repurposed into the general Manitoba bursary program.
"The Manitoba government streamlined student financial aid packages and programs for 2018-19 to ensure equity and access for students, especially those who are low-income and Indigenous."
The spokeswoman also noted the Access bursary program was under-subscribed by 23 per cent in its last year and wasn’t available for students at Brandon University, Assiniboine Community College and Université de Saint-Boniface.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew was critical of the change when speaking to the Free Press on Monday, days after he tabled documents, which revealed the cuts, in the legislature.
He said the provincial government’s decision has left education funding "stretched further and further," while also eliminating targeted supports.
"These cuts mean that not only will some students have more difficulty getting in the door of universities, but it also may be more difficult for them to stay once they get there," he said. "A lot of the mission was to encourage Indigenous students and, in particular, students who have faced barriers to be able to get into a post-secondary program where they’ve been under-represented in the past. Without resources to pay for tuition and other supports like tutoring, it’s going to mean more barriers."
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Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.