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This article was published 29/3/2016 (1303 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister promises to double the amount of money available for post-secondary scholarships and bursaries by encouraging more private-sector donors.
Pallister made the announcement at the University of Manitoba on Monday morning, and again at Brandon University in the afternoon.
"Today is kind of an emotional announcement for me because this is my old school we’re talking about," he said while standing outside Clark Hall, surrounded by local Tory candidates and a handful of university students.
"These schools are where we unlock the potential within our young people."
Pallister said a PC government would raise the total funding available to $20 million by increasing the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative fund to $6.75 million from $4.5 million, with a one-third matching component from government to allow for more private donors.
Pallister said this campaign promise was developed after meeting with officials at each post-secondary institution in the province.
"The suggestion is that there is money waiting to be donated to assist young people in getting to a post-secondary institution in the private sector," he said. "There has been a matching program, but it hasn’t increased under the NDP for 17 years, and we think that that’s a major error in judgment."
Pallister believes his pledge will create 3,500 additional scholarships. He said he will get the private sector on board by reducing barriers to private donors and working with groups such as the Business Council of Manitoba.
Last week, NDP Leader Greg Selinger pledged to invest $40 million to replace student loans with grants, provide free tuition to students in care up to age 25 and double funding for the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative.
The Liberals have also pledged to turn Manitoba student loans to non-repayable grants starting in the 2016-17 academic year, at a cost of $10 million annually.
In response to Pallister’s promise, opposing parties criticized the PC leader’s emphasis on the private sector for the funds.
"We support real spending on education, but Pallister is assuming two-thirds of his pledge will be picked up by the private sector and you know what happens when you assume," Liberal spokesman Mike Brown said in a prepared statement.
The NDP called the plan "bad for students, bad for families, and bad for colleges and universities" in an emailed statement sent by spokesman Andrew Tod.
While in Brandon, Pallister stopped in at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.
"It does always remind me of the importance of agriculture in our economy and I think that’s a really good function of this event," he said.
At the university announcement, Pallister was once again asked if the Tories would invest in a new school for Brandon. While he called it an "exciting proposal," Pallister wouldn’t commit to any funding.
"The first thing is to determine how deep the fiscal hole is that we’re going to inherit, then to look at the priority projects," he said.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press
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