The Cost Disease Infects Manitoba Education

Publication, Education, Rodney Clifton

Earlier this year, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies published a report I wrote that showed that the cost of public education in all Canadian provinces and territories has been increasing at rates far above the growth in the economy, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).1 Moreover, the study showed considerable variability across the provinces and territories. The rising cost of public education was highest in Newfoundland and Labrador at 111.1 per cent and lowest in British Columbia at 53.3 per cent. Manitoba was in the middle of the distribution for the 12 jurisdictions. Between 1999 and 2010, the cost of educating the average student increased by 77.4 per cent while the CPI increased by 25.5 per cent.  In other words, the cost of public education rose by almost three times the CPI. Obviously, it is not sustainable to have the cost of education persistently expand faster than the provincial economy. Sooner or later, it will be necessary to slow the increasing cost to a rate that is, at most, on par with the rate of economic growth.2 This policy paper extends the previous study by examining the cost of public education in 36 of the 38 school divisions/ districts in Manitoba from 2002/2003 to 2012/2013. The study shows that the cost of schooling has been increasing across the 36 jurisdictions between two and four times higher than the growth in the CPI. These data have implications for the way school divisions/districts raise money and for the way the provincial government funds schools.

View entire study here.