The University of Manitoba is getting a $150-million cash injection from the provincial government toward its Front and Centre campaign, which is raising money for the university's strategic priorities, but some say the university should be dealing with budget cuts instead.
Premier Greg Selinger announced the "unprecedented investment" to the Front and Centre campaign on Friday, saying the spending is part of the province's plan to "support innovation at universities and colleges" and help students get the skills they need to secure good jobs in Manitoba.
"We know that students want to have access to the best programming and opportunities they can, and that's why we're focusing our investments in key priorities areas like innovation, inclusion and teaching excellence," Selinger said in a news release.
"This investment means that Manitoba students can get a world-class, affordable and accessible education right here at home and be ready for the jobs of tomorrow."
The government's contribution brings the amount raised by the Front and Centre campaign to $365 million of its $500-million goal.
University of Manitoba president David Barnard thanked the province for what he called "its visionary support for this university."
Group protests budget cuts
However, the announcement wasn't embraced by everyone. Four people who said they were students tried to interrupt the event by marching up to the stage and holding up signs protesting university budget cuts.
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"Student priorities were not made front and centre during this campaign," said Yanisa Wu, one of the protesters.
"More than $200 million were made for this campaign and yet … the administration is still having to implement four per cent budget cuts on faculty members and like staff, courses. It doesn't make any sense."
"This is the third year in a row that we're facing cuts to academic programs. Last year was $20 million; this year, it's expected [to be] $20 million again," said Ashley Penner.
"At the same time as they're advertising this campaign, our academics are being cut for three years in a row. As students, we can't take much more."
Wu added that students were not consulted on the campaign, which has been focused on donors.
A spokesperson from the University of Manitoba Students' Union disputes the claim that all four of the protesters are U of M students. At least one is from University of Winnipeg.