Meeting the needs of students and taxpayers
Our Manitoba government is increasing funding for school divisions again this year under a balanced approach to providing students with an improved, quality education while also creating efficiency and controlling costs. We are making decisions that best suit the needs of students, while considering the impacts on local school division ratepayers and taxpayers as we steer the province back onto a responsible fiscal track.
Our investment of $1.323 billion for 2018-19 provides strong support for school divisions with a year-over-year increase of $6.6 million. As well, we are boosting the Intensive Newcomers Support Contingency funding from $60,000 to $100,000 to assist divisions with new refugees or other high-needs students. Our government will also phase out the Tax Incentive Grant (TIG) over the next six years and adjust the grant to ensure school divisions receive at least 98 percent of last year’s operating and TIG support combined.
Our balanced approach to repairing the education system also requires finding efficiency within it. We are making school divisions more efficient by moving toward consolidated provincial bargaining, in a way that’s in the best interests of teachers, students and taxpayers. Currently, Manitoba is the only province where collective bargaining is conducted exclusively at the local level between each school board and its teachers’ association. Instead of 38 local collective agreements, Manitoba will have one provincial agreement – an important shift that will put teacher resources back on the front lines and in classrooms instead of around bargaining tables. Classrooms, after all, are where teachers want to be and where they are needed most.
We are committed to the best possible education for everyone from kindergarten to Grade 12. After 17 years of mismanagement under the previous NDP government, when Manitoba’s high-school dropout rate was the second-highest in Canada and scores in science, reading and math were the lowest among the provinces, we are carefully steering toward a quality education for all students. This improvement will involve a review of the K-12 system in early 2019, with public consultations across Manitoba on issues such as student outcomes, the role of school boards and taxation power.
However, while improving the public school system, it’s also imperative that we reduce its administrative costs that have increased by nine percent to $68.4 million in just the past three years. Our new mandate is to reduce administration expenses by 15 percent in the coming year, generating $2.1 million in savings for school divisions. As well, we expect divisions to limit their local education property tax increases to two percent for 2018-19.
The NDP failed to provide a quality education to Manitoba’s school-aged children. The direction we are taking is about a better use of time, a better use of resources and much better results for students across our province.
The 3rd Session of the 41st Legislature will reconvene on Wednesday, March 7 at 1:30 p.m.
The Provincial Budget will be delivered by Minister of Finance Cameron Friesen on Monday, March 12 shortly after 1:30 p.m.
Greg Nesbitt is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Riding Mountain constituency. He can be reached at 204-759-3313, 1-844-877-7767 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.