On Campus

Unpaid time off comes to UWinnipeg

University makes cuts to balance the budget, but avoids layoffs

In order to balance its budget, the University of Winnipeg is demanding all departments reduce costs by 3.5 per cent, but no layoffs are planned.

Support staff will see only a modest pay raise of 1.5 per cent, while many unionized, as well as non-unionized, staff and management have volunteered to take up to 10 furlough days, or unpaid time off. The university executive, including president Lloyd Axworthy, will see their pay frozen, a move that follows a voluntary 10 per cent pay cut last spring. How academic staff will be impacted is yet to be determined, as the university is currently in negotiations with the faculty association.

While there are no plans to layoff staff or faculty, the university is employing a strategy of “vacancy management,” meaning many job openings will go unfilled depending on the importance of the position. Manitoba universities are required by law to balance the books.

Increased pressure to stay in the black was motivated by a smaller government operating grant, which saw a two per cent increase this year, down from five per cent in previous years. The U of W’s  budget is $100 million with $49 million coming from the government. At $6800, the U of W received less than two thirds funding per student as other Manitoba universities. The University of Manitoba received approximately $10,500 per student from the province while Brandon University received about $11,700 per student.

Unlike other provinces, the Manitoba government does not factor student enrollment when calculating operating grants. According to Dan Hurley, in the external affairs office of the university president, if the U of W had received per student funding at the same level as the University of Regina ($8,500), which is of comparable size, the U of W “would have added $12 million in revenue to the University each year.”

Additionally, the U of W has an $8.6 million loan that it was recently forced to take out to comply with an order from the provincial pension commission to repay current and past pension plan holders outstanding disbursements. Servicing the loan will cost the university $530,000 annually over the next 40 years.

Tuition will rise five per cent for students, in accordance with provincial regulations.

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