Manitoba International Students Rally For Universal Health Care
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Manitoba International Students Rally For Universal Health Care

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A change in regime is the best hope for Manitoba’s International students wanting universal health care

Cuts, cuts, and more cuts have been the calling marker for the Manitoba P.C government since it first took office in 2016. The cuts have had a detrimental effect on the people who rely on these services, from healthcare to education.

In 2018, under former Premier Brian Pallister, the P.C government cut funding by $3 million from the universal health care program afforded to international post-secondary students to reduce the provincial budget. 

In March of 2018, then Finance Minister Cameron Friesen delivered his third budget at a costed amount of $17.4-billion for the 2018-19 fiscal year. During that year, the cost of tuition rose by an additional $25 million. 

Seeing that budget 2018 had been the Manitoba P.Cs’s third budget, it is inexcusable they could not find an additional $3 million in savings. While the government passed the buck to international students who pay almost three times to get educated in Manitoba, the Pallister government was more concerned with bailing out the corporate elite, specifically the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, to the tune of $82 million of taxpayer dollars.

A rally yesterday at the Manitoba Legislature led by Ms. Judith Oviosun, Campaign Coordinator at the Canadian Federation of Students, hundreds of them gathered to bring awareness to the Manitoba government’s unfair treatment of international students. 

Ms. Oviosun reminded the Manitoba P.C government of the significant contributions to the Manitoba economy, culture, and taxes generated by international students.

Dr. Uche Nwankwo Community Activist and lectures in Economics at the University of Winnipeg

Jon Reyes, the current Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration, was asked to address the concerns of international students; he indicated that his government was providing a world-class education for all Manitobans.

He inferred the international students he has spoken with are content. The inability of Reyes to be sympathetic to the needs of the people he represents is of great concern. It is quite the irony that the Minister responsible for immigration and encouraging international students to study in Manitoba is also the one that has the power to advocate for reinstating the universal health care program for them but chooses not to do so.

Manitobans must question whether Reyes is the correct choice to be Manitoba’s Minister of Advance education if he can stand with a straight face telling Manitobans his government provides a world-class education to all students. The Manitoba P.C’s appear to be in a constant state of war with Manitoba’s overworked, underpaid and unappreciated educators, which has led to the disruption in the education of its students on several occasions. 

Last year, over 1,200 members of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association, professors, librarians, and instructors went on strike for 35 days. It also happened to be the longest strike in union history. 

Then there was the historical settlement in February of 2022 when Justice Joan McKelvey awarded the University of Manitoba Faculty Association $19.3 million for the strike due to Premier Pallister’s interfering with the collective bargaining process. A strike that just happened to occur in the first year of the P.C government’s administration. 

If the Manitoba government can not see the value of international students, it is only a matter of time before they choose another province to advance their education. When that happens, it will be Manitoba’s taxpayers who will contribute more to economic shortcomings. 

Image Credit https://www.cfsmb.cahttps://www.cfsmb.ca/

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