Manitoba government planning to review school funding and taxation authority

By on May 17, 2017


Manitoba is the last jurisdiction in Canada where local school boards have universal authority to tax homeowners. (Photo: justine warrington/ Flickr)
Manitoba is the last jurisdiction in Canada where local school boards have universal authority to tax homeowners. (Photo: justine warrington/ Flickr)

WINNIPEG –A planned review of how schools are funded in Manitoba is in the development stage and may examine issues like school board amalgamation and taxation authority.

Education Minister Ian Wishart says the government is in the process of putting together a request for proposals.

He also says local taxation may be part of the discussion, though he says no definitive decisions on that front have been made.

Manitoba is the last jurisdiction in Canada where local school boards have universal authority to tax homeowners.

Josh Watt, executive director of Manitoba School Boards, says last doesn’t necessarily mean worst.

He says in Quebec, one board can raise taxes and then money is doled out to schools, while in other provinces, the authority has been shifted to provincial governments.

Michelle Prytula, dean of college education at the University of Saskatchewan, says Manitoba’s system of local school boards having control over the mill rate is unusual.

“Manitoba is the envy of the provinces,” Prytula tells CTV Winnipeg.

Louis Riel School Division Board chairman Chris Sigurdson wants it to stay that way.

“Holding the powers locally so the best decisions can be made locally is the only way to go for our kids,” says Sigurdson.

He’s open to a review on how education is funded because the formula is complicated.

“It’s a very, very complex situation and everybody will admit that. Some changes certainly could be warranted, as long as it keeps the money flowing properly to the school divisions so we can help the kids.”