The University of Manitoba is looking at the possibility of layoffs after the post-secondary school says it’s expecting to lose millions of dollars from its provincial operating budget this year.
In a letter to faculty and staff, U of M president David Barnard said the provincial government is cutting the institution’s operating grant by five per cent for the upcoming school year.
That’s in addition to earlier demands from the Progressive Conservative government for temporary workforce reductions over the summer at post-secondary institutions, Crown corporations and other publicly-funded bodies.
“We must continue to work together now to address additional pressures put on our budget as a result of this significant cut,” Barnard wrote in a memo, which said layoffs and reduced work weeks are among the options on the table.
“We have already had to make some difficult decisions as we respond to work disruptions, revenue losses, and increased costs resulting from the global pandemic.
“We must continue to work together now to address additional pressures put on our budget as a result of this significant cut.”
Barnard said the cuts would mean a $17.3-million reduction to the school’s 20/21 budget.
In a statement to Global News, Minister of Economic Development and Training Ralph Eichler didn’t confirm the cuts, but did thank the U of M and other post-secondary institutions “that have worked with Manitoba to identify ways to achieve efficiencies in order to assist with the financial challenges posed by the pandemic.
“The University of Manitoba is the province’s largest and only research-intensive institution, and therefore plays an important role in our post-secondary education system. At the same time, there are economies of scale at the University of Manitoba that enable it to find savings while minimizing impact to students,” Eichler said in the statement.
“The University of Manitoba has indicated that it can achieve efficiencies through mechanisms such as deferring hiring for vacant positions during the pandemic and executive compensation reductions.”
In his letter to staff, Barnard said the school expects one per cent of the cuts will be “ongoing”, while school officials have been assured the other four per cent are for this year only, he added.
As well as layoffs and voluntary work week reductions, Barnard said the school is also looking at cutting discretionary spending and hiring deferrals to help make up for the reduction in funding.
The news comes the same day the university announced its plans to go ahead with its fall term through remote learning, making some of its fall courses available online.
In an online post Wednesday the school said it will deliver “all possible courses for the Fall Term by remote learning” and in rare cases some courses may be delivered in person.
— With files from the Canadian Press