By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is temporarily boosting funding for scholarships and bursaries at colleges and universities.
The province currently offers one dollar for every two dollars that post-secondary institutions can raise in private donations for bursaries and scholarships.
Premier Brian Pallister says, for this year only, the province will match donations dollar for dollar and raise the program’s budget to $15 million from $10 million.
Pallister says the aim is to help schools that are facing a hard time raising money during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province reported two new COVID-19 cases — part of a previously announced cluster at a workplace in western Manitoba.
Health officials would not identify the workplace, but say it is not a health-care or food-processing facility and does not have significant interaction with the public.
The province’s chief public health officer said Wednesday’s additional cases bring the cluster number to seven, and most people who had direct contact with the workplace have been reached.
“The contact investigation has been largely completed … and so we’re not concerned about a risk to the public,” Dr. Brent Roussin said.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 numbers have continued to track below those of many other provinces. The two additional positives reported Wednesday raised the total of confirmed and probable cases to 284.
The number of people who have recovered rose again, leaving 35 active cases across the province. Seven people have died since the pandemic began.
Pallister’s bursary announcement comes at a time when his Progressive Conservative government has ordered universities and colleges to cut labour costs over the summer to help cushion the financial blow of the pandemic.
For public schools and post-secondary institutions, the aim is to temporarily cut payroll costs for four months — through job-sharing, reduced work weeks or layoffs — to save $89 million, or 1.3 per cent over the full fiscal year.
Pallister was unable to say how many jobs would be affected.
“That’ll be determined by the management decisions that are made, in discussion and consultation with the labour force that they manage,” he said.
The Opposition New Democrats accused Pallister of hiding the real numbers.
“This government has definitely received information that would tell them how many jobs are going to be cut as a result of … the orders that they’re giving,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.
Also Wednesday, the government’s Crown-owned auto insurance corporation received regulatory approval for a previously announced plan to offer one-time rebates to drivers.
With fewer people driving during the pandemic, insurance claims have dropped enough to prompt Manitoba Public Insurance to mail out cheques worth about $150 for the average policy-holder.