Yesterday, the Provincial Government presented its budget estimates for the 2020 – 21 fiscal year. While the budget contained an increase of 1% to the University of Regina’s operating grant, and an $11 million increase to post secondary education in Saskatchewan, there is still a need for a much larger re-investment in post secondary education in the province.
Due to cuts made by the provincial government in past years, the University has made choices that have affected both the working environment of URFA members, and the learning environment of students. Workloads have increased, and the reliance on precarious labour, including sessional instructors and term positions, is becoming the new normal. Students have been affected as well, as a decade of tuition increases has had an impact on the affordability of obtaining an education at the U of R. A re-investment in post secondary education would put us on the path towards ensuring more stable employment for URFA members, and more affordable education for students.
In her message addressing the provincial budget yesterday, outgoing President Vianne Timmons noted that, despite a funding increase, the upcoming budget would still be a “challenge.” As the University prepares its budget for the coming year, we once again implore the University to look at all options that do not impact URFA members or students. The people that the University relies on for the success of the institution should not be the ones who have to face cuts or tuition increases.
This is a difficult time for many, as the outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted the usual operations of the University. In the face of this uncertainty, we ask the provincial government to commit to ensuring funding to offset any unforeseen costs the University may face as a result of this pandemic. It is our hope that the government will recognize the importance and need for a re-investment in post secondary education, especially during times of economic difficulty and uncertainty, and commit to making post secondary education a priority in Saskatchewan.