It’s been a tough couple of years for university students in Fort Rouge. I know that students have worked hard to adapt to online learning, and faculty have been finding new ways to teach and connect with their students, but it’s still not the same as being with your peers and professors on campus. Now the Progressive Conservative government is only making life harder for students.
Earlier this month, students at the University of Manitoba were forced to put their studies on hold because PC government interference pushed the University of Manitoba Faculty Association) to a strike vote.
After years of budget cuts and tuition increases, faculty and students at the U of M are speaking out. Manitoba universities need to be independent and competitive so that they can recruit and retain expert researchers and profs. But last year the PCs passed a bill to give the government more power over university funding and tuition rates, and continued its practise of hiking student tuition. Now we see they’re also continuing with their past practise of interfering in collective bargaining.
It’s clear that we need to train more nursing students to strengthen our health-care system but by interfering in post-secondary institutions the PCs are making the nursing shortage worse. By forcing faculty to strike, the PCs are taking student nurses out of healthcare facilities just as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning and possibly delaying their entrance into the workforce. A similar situation is playing out for students in other programs. As we look to an economic recover,y these government decisions are forcing students to pump the brakes on their plans to join the workforce.
Recently the PCs elected Heather Stefanson as their new leader. But so far, she has continued Pallister’s legacy of interfering in post-secondary institutions.
The Manitoba NDP caucus stands with students and UMFA, who just want to get back to the classroom.
If Premier Stefanson wants to prove she’s different from Mr. Pallister, she needs to put students first and allow free and fair bargaining. This would of course be just the bare minimum. We look forward to a future government where we can actually recruit and retain talent that allows research and knowledge mobilization to flourish in Manitoba while supporting students to reach their full potential both today and in the economy of tomorrow.
If you’ve been impacted by PC interference in post-secondary institutions, I want to hear from you. Call my office at 204-615-1922 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fort Rouge constituency report
Wab Kinew is the NDP MLA for Fort Rouge and leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party.