Peter Ives – Letter to Minister of Economic Development and Training Ralph Eichler

Dear Minister Eichler,

As you can imagine, this is not only a chaotic and stressful period at the University of Winnipeg, where I chair the Philosophy Department. In Philosophy, we have been able to successfully transition to on-line learning very swiftly, finishing off the Winter Term and offering the same six courses for the Spring term that we were scheduled to offer in person. In previous years these courses enroll well with short waitlists often. This year the demand has increased tremendously, more than doubled. All six courses have long waitlists, most longer than the capacity of the actual course. Working with my dean and the administration we are in the process of adding sections to help meet these students needs, but even with 3 new sections, it looks like there will remain substantial waitlists for every course.

This situation fits what I’m hearing from individual students. Many of them have lost jobs and are forced to remain at home. They are worried about their futures. They know one clear positive thing that they can do now is further their education and training. To have these opportunities taken away from them, which will be the inevitable result of any sizeable cut in university funding, will be a terrible outcome for them. But it will also be bad for Manitoba. With university courses moving on-line throughout Canada, these students will look elsewhere!

I have been very impressed with how well professors, staff and the administration at the UW have adapted to the COVID 19 crisis. With adequate resources, I am sure we will be able to continue to offer the students the best options possible in the fall and years to come. But if you cut university budgets now, this will obviously not be possible. It will adversely impact Manitoba’s ability to recover from the COVID 19 crisis and many of the young people who are the vital future of the province will likely move to other provinces that have been better resourced to deal with the challenges of this crisis.

Thanks for your time,

Peter Ives, Phd
Professor of Political Science
Chair, Philosophy Department
University of Winnipeg