Saskatchewan Budget 2019: Post-secondary funding flat

The provincial government is sticking with the funding levels previously paid to post-secondary institutions across the province.

Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship will now be based on financial need

Saskatchewan's provincial budget will maintain its grant spending on post-secondary schools in 2019-20. (Google Street View)

The provincial government is sticking with the funding levels previously paid to post-secondary institutions across the province.

The 2019-20 budget will give $673 million in operating and capital grants to post-secondary institutions across the province, including Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, the Gabriel Dumont Institute and both of the province's universities.

The money matches the operating grants paid to the schools last year.

"I am pleased we were able to maintain our strong support of post-secondary education," said Minister of Advanced Education Tina Beaudry-Mellor in a news release. "This will ensure our institutions will continue to provide high-quality education to thousands of Saskatchewan students."

This year's budget also gives $5 million to the University of Saskatchewan to address budget cuts made in 2015.

Financial strain

The past year has been full of financial strife at many post-secondary schools. Last year, the University of Regina cut its men's and women's wrestling programs as well as its men's volleyball team due to money woes.

Meanwhile, unions at both the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan have recently said labour action is possible.

A strike or lockout of faculty members at the University of Regina could begin as early as next week. The university and its faculty association have not been able to reach an agreement after mediation.

The union that represents support workers at the University of Saskatchewan has also been musing about striking. In that dispute, the sides are divided over changes to the employee pension plan.

NDP Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said the budget did nothing to address those issues.

"We saw a little cut to universities today and cuts to the scholarship," Meili said. "That's on top of zero last year and a big cut the year before so they are in just a terrible situation."

Meili said if the province wants a solid economy in the future, the last thing they should be doing is underfunding education.

It's not clear whether tuition rates will rise for students. Last year, Arts and Sciences students at the University of Saskatchewan saw their tuition rise by 4.8 per cent, while tuition was raised at the University of Regina by 2.8 per cent.

The U of R said in a statement it wasn't expecting an increase and faces numerous challenges to balance its budget.

"As costs continue to rise due to inflationary factors such as salary increases and tax hikes, we have intensified our efforts to find efficiencies and develop new revenue streams," the statement said. "Despite this effort, we
will still face challenges in developing a balanced budget for approval by our Board of Governors in early May."  

Scholarship changes

The province is also making changes to scholarships and financial aid programs.

Most notably, the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship will be converted to a needs-based scholarship. Previously, the scholarship gave all new Grade 12 graduates up to $500 per year if they were enrolled in a post-secondary school.

The province will also be providing $26 million to support the student loan program, helping more than 18,000 students.

"By amending the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship to a needs-based approach, and increasing funding for student financial assistance, we can get money into the hands of students who truly need it," said Beaudry-Mellor in a news release.

The new system will require students to apply for the scholarship through a single application for three types of Saskatchewan financial assistance: a grant, a scholarship or a loan.

The province is also planning to continue its Graduate Retention Program, which gives former post-secondary students an income tax credit of up to $20,000 for tuition fees paid by graduates who live and work in Saskatchewan after graduating.


  • A previous version of this story stated the College of Medicine received an $88-million increase in funding. In fact, the $88-million sum is the operating budget for the college and is the same amount that was budgeted last year.
    Mar 20, 2019 4:43 PM CT