Provincial budget cuts to Saskatchewan’s universities could lead to major job loss and unaffordable tuition hikes, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The Saskatchewan Government announced a 5.8 per cent reduction in funding for post-secondary institutions in the province of Saskatchewan. For the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan, it means $25 million less in funding. The government is also requiring the University of Saskatchewan to provide $20 million from its base budget to support the College of Medicine. Colleges and technical institutes are taking a hit as well. These cuts are on top of the mid-year reductions to the universities of $6.7 million announced by the province in November 2016.

“Investing in post-secondary education is investing in the future of Saskatchewan. Overwhelming evidence shows that investing in post-secondary institutions is crucial for Canada’s economic and social well-being,” said Suzanne Posyniak, CUPE staff representative. “This drastic funding cut will hurt our world-class education facilities and make students pay for the Sask Party’s fiscal mismanagement.”

Personal income tax credits for post-secondary tuition and education expenses will be eliminated. Funding for student support is being cut by $6.7 million this year (9 per cent), including a $1.9 million cut from scholarships. In addition, the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings (SAGE), where the provincial government gives 10 per cent of contributions to a Registered Education Savings Plan, will be suspended as of January 1.

The University of Regina has announced that it will need to increase tuition fees and that it will need to look at service cuts and layoffs. The University of Saskatchewan has said that position terminations and impacts on students will be the last thing it looks at.

Next to Ontario and Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan already has the highest average undergraduate tuition for full time students in Canada.

“It is not fair to ask students to pay more out of pocket to pay for the Sask Party’s corporate tax cuts and ongoing reckless decision making. CUPE strongly supports accessible post-secondary education and will work to reverse these short-sighted budget cuts,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

CUPE represents academic workers at the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan, including sessional instructors, researchers, teaching assistants, and support staff working on grounds and building maintenance, libraries, food services, caretaking, information technology, clerical support, and administration.