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Wpg Free Press: U of M approves $648-million budget, avoids major cuts

May 24, 2017 — 

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports:

The University of Manitoba has not only avoided spending cuts in next year’s budget, it has been able to increase it in some areas on a one-time-only basis.

U of M president David Barnard told the board of governors Tuesday the key to the budget was the Pallister government’s wage controls.

Freezing wages of faculty and physical plant employees, combined with years of reduced spending and use of voluntary retirements and vacancy management, gave the university breathing room despite a freeze on provincial operating grants.

“We think we’ve been prudent in managing university finances in recent years. We’ve been cautious in our spending,” Barnard said in an interview.

The U of M board of governors approved a $648-million balanced operating budget Tuesday for the 2017-18 academic year, about 1.6 per cent more than last year.

Barnard told the governors the university had prepared its budget based on increasing academic salaries, but when the province froze faculty wages, money became available for one-time academic improvements, he said.

There is belt-tightening on campus, especially in non-academic spending, Barnard said.

But the U of M doesn’t have to make the major cuts that the University of Winnipeg did just a few weeks ago, which included the cancellation of three varsity sports programs.

“It’s not as dramatic as that,” Barnard said.

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