Gaming the System: Special Education Funding in Manitoba

Publication, Education, Dennis Owens


  • The provincial government currently provides funding for special needs students on the basis of three levels of classification.
  • The higher a student’s level, the more extra funding is provided.
  • Special education expenditures made up approximately 14% of total operating expenditures in the 2002-2003 school year.
  • These expenditures have increased by more than 300% since 1984, while total operating expenditures have increased by only 49.9%.
  • School divisions have an economic incentive to apply for as much special education funding as possible. In particular, a significant amount of this money can be diverted into other areas on the basis of a policy called “Flexible Base Support.”
  • The three different classified levels of disability fail to make a distinction between students who can function at a regular academic level if given support and those who may never be able to function at a regular level.
  • The government should examine whether the current method of providing funding for special education is appropriate.

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