Education Finance Update

by Joel Wiebe

Based on the information provided by Joseph Warbinski, MTS, Policy Analyst, at the Ed Finance meeting in Winnipeg on November 5, 2016.

Things to Consider

  • The year 2015 saw 18,000 immigrants added to Manitoba’s populationThe year 2016 will probably see closer to 20,000 immigrants to Manitoba’s population. This is our future school enrollment, but it requires funding
  • The 2016-2017 FRAME budget is up 3.6% from the 2015-2016 FRAME budget (This was the election budget of the former Selinger government).
  • What are the Pallister government’s budget intentions?

The Budget Cycle

  • The Throne Speech was presented on Monday, November 21st, 2016. Local school boards need to prepare preliminary budgets for the upcoming school year (2017-2018) by the end of December. To do this, they are required to present its proposals and receive feedback and recommendations from the public. These public meetings are announced and are available for all to attend (including teachers).
  • Late January/February 2017 the provincial government will provide the Public School system funding announcement for the 2017-2018 school year. This is not how much each school division will get; rather, the allocation of funds to the various elements of the overall funding model. Each school board is eligible to obtain operating dollars from these allocations. The funding announcements enable the local school boards to start finalizing their budgets.

Questions and Issues

  • There has been a 30% drop in level 2 funding approvals for special needs students over the past few years.
  • The Pallister government has made an election promise to cut the PST by 1%. How will this affect education spending? Is there a possibility that the province will look into a harmonized sales tax (HST) like other provinces? The HST is a combination of GST and PST, but includes taxes on items that were formerly untaxed. What about the possible source of revenue from the proposed carbon taxes? Would their potential revenue offset the 1% PST cut?
  • The Pallister government has said that it intends to cut the provincial deficit of $850 to $900 million. How will it do this? Freezing the increases at 0% is a possibility. But costs are always rising and the 0% increase becomes a loss when inflation is factored in. What about a second year of 0%? A third or a fourth? Over time, this becomes a financial problem for local school boards because accumulated inflation quickly adds up.
  • Is the recent labour strife at the University of Manitoba a sign of things to come for Public Education funding/underfunding?

I have access to various statistics such as these. Let me know what kinds of data you would like me to research for BLTA.