Manitoba expanding scholarship, bursary program, will match funds raised by post-secondary institutions
Province's funding for program will be dollar-for-dollar for this year due to pandemic, said premier
The Manitoba government is expanding its scholarship and bursary funding program, and will match money raised by post-secondary institutions for scholarships and bursaries this year, Premier Brian Pallister announced Wednesday.
The provincial program, announced in 2016, previously saw the province add one dollar to the scholarship and bursary fund for every two dollars raised by universities and colleges.
The program will now match dollar-for-dollar, Pallister said.
"It is a challenge for post-secondary institutions anytime to raise money for scholarships and bursaries. With the economy with the present state it's in, we expect that these challenges will not be less," he said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
"We want to make sure that we're taking steps to lessen the burden on our post-secondary institutions during this pandemic.
"At the same time, we want to make sure that the scholarships and bursaries are available for those who need them, when they need them."
The province is also allotting $15 million to the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative this fiscal year, Pallister said.
Originally, $10 million was the amount earmarked in the 2020-21 budget.
"Students are the future of our province. We are giving them greater financial support because we believe it's important to help stimulate our economy now and move the province forward in the future," the premier said.
"Our young people and our students will have a very, very important role to play and their success will be an important part of our recovery."
The University of Manitoba says it welcomes the investment.
"Access to quality post-secondary education is critical to the success of our province and its people and we welcome provincial investment in initiatives that support students and recognize the incredible contributions of our donors," John Kearsey, vice president of external relations, said through a spokesperson.
Brandon University was happy to hear the news, although it does not know the full details of the program.
"Scholarships and bursaries are often popular with donors because they provide direct support to students, and students will certainly need the extra support this year," a spokesperson said in an email.
"We know this is a difficult time for many, including many of our donors, however everywhere you look you can see evidence of how people and communities are coming together during this difficult time, and we have seen the same."
The University of Winnipeg echoed the sentiment.
"Education is key to the post-pandemic recovery — students gain critical knowledge and skills to secure a brighter economic future," a U of W spokesperson said in an email.
"The University of Winnipeg is committed to supporting student success, which includes providing financial assistance to those in need."
Jibril Hussein, president of the University of Winnipeg Students' Association, was glad to hear the premier acknowledge the role of students and young adults on Wednesday, but believes "more immediate supports" must come.
"While these are positive first steps … many jobless students are facing financial insecurity," said Hussein.
"Students should receive the education and training they deserve to participate in our economic recovery, without having to worry about putting food on their tables."
While calling the announcement a "step in the right direction," the University of Manitoba Students' Union voiced similar concerns.
"We would also like to see the province show a similar commitment to addressing the many serious challenges that Manitoba's post-secondary institutions are now facing as a result of the global pandemic," UMSU said in a statement, citing potential revenue losses for post-secondary schools in the fall and cuts to operating grants.
"Even prior to the pandemic, this government was effectively hollowing out Manitoba's post-secondary landscape with its successive cuts year after year," said UMSU president Jelynn Dela Cruz.
Last month, the province announced a $120-million student summer job subsidy, which covers $7 per hour to employers who hire students. More than 675 summer jobs for students are supported through the subsidy, according to the province.
The provincial government has also suspended student loan payments until September.