Manitoba is bumping up education funding and extending the education property tax freeze.
The province is adding $120 million to next school year’s budget, but education minister Wayne Ewasko says part of that will cover the anticipated loss to school division revenue.
“This year, we are again asking school divisions to freeze education property taxes,” Ewasko said. “In return, the increase to the property tax offset grant will ensure school divisions do not lose out on revenue that they would have raised by increasing property taxes by two per cent.”
Ewasko says $23 million will go towards filling that gap and $77 million to incremental wage costs and other pressures. That leaves around $20 million in increases for public and independent schools. Ewasko says the province is working on a new funding model for the following school year.
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Manitoba Teachers Society president James Bedford says the funding appears generous on the surface. But if you look closer, it isn’t nearly enough to support some of their longstanding recommendations.
“It really represents the status quo that we’ve seen over the last four-five years which is funding that doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation, funding that doesn’t acknowledge the growth in student population,” Bedford said.
He says the province is kicking much-needed programs like a universal meal program down the road. He’s happy the province is working on a new funding model, but adds that students falling below the poverty line really can’t afford to wait.