Post-secondary schools must cut management 15%, premier says

The trimming started with core government, spread to the Crown corporations and now colleges and universities will have to cut senior staff.

'It's too big up top,' says Brian Pallister

Manitoba's post-secondary schools are expected to trim senior staff, said Premier Brian Pallister Wednesday. (CBC News)

The trimming started with core government, spread to the Crown corporations and now colleges and universities will have to cut senior staff. 

Premier Brian Pallister confirmed that is the direction that will be given to all of Manitoba's public post-secondary institutions to reduce management by 15 per cent.

Premier Brian Pallister said the province has 'a massive deficit; we have to trim at the top.' (CBC News)

"Let's be clear. It's too big up top, throughout government. We've said that from the start. We have comparative data that demonstrates that to us. We are taking action. It's just a question of timing. They are a lot of agencies in government and it's a question of timing," Pallister says.

The cuts will also extend to government funded agencies.

The Tories started cutting management in central government departments a few months after taking office.

Pallister says the timing of the direction hasn't been worked out yet, nor would he say whether educational institutions have been given a timeline to make the changes. But he says the cuts will happen.

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"There is going to be reductions in senior management. That is no secret and we've implemented those in core [government] already. I want to get the detailed numbers so I can give a progress report in estimates [budget committee]," Pallister told reporters Wednesday.

The PCs have also ordered Crown corporations to cut management. Manitoba Hydro had already announced significant cuts. 

A spokesperson for the University of Manitoba says it has yet to be given orders to make the reductions but that the institution will look at it if it gets the word from government.

"The University of Manitoba is a leader in managing its resources and improving efficiencies," said the U of M's John Danakas, 

Danakas says the university has instituted several initiatives to improve efficiency, including reducing the number of faculties at the school.

A spokesperson for the University of Winnipeg similarly said the school has received nothing from government on cuts, but pointed to several cost-cutting measures it has already put in place.

"Over the past decade, U of Winnipeg has streamlined administrative operations and cut more than $16 million in annual expenses from its operating budget," according to a background document provided to CBC News.

Post-secondary institutions have been the focus of a number of funding changes since the PC government took office in 2016.

The budget delivered by the Tories in April allotted $699 million for universities and colleges in 2017-2018, up 0.29 per cent from last year.​ The hike was nowhere near the cost of inflation.

The PC government also introduced a law that would allow for tuition hikes of five per cent plus the rate of inflation.

Manitoba Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux challenged the direction of the government during question period Wednesday.

Liberal MLA Cindy Lamoureux says the Tory cuts without consultation make her nervous. (CBC News )

She told CBC News the sweeping changes being made by the Pallister government make her "nervous."

"The government appears to be making very grand decisions before consulting with Manitobans... These institutions had no idea this was coming," Lamoureux says.

The Burrows MLA says she understands Manitoba's books need to be balanced, but post-secondary institutions should remain independent and "have a seat at the table" when financial decisions are made about their futures.