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Post-secondary students in Manitoba are not sitting quietly as the provincial government moves ahead with a budget that will negatively impact those seeking a higher education.

Over fifty students attended a rally earlier this week at the Manitoba Legislature, protesting rising tuition fees and the province's plan to cut the Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate and Advance Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate for students. The Pallister government revealed those plans when it tabled the 2017-18 budget last week.

The provincial government's plan for tuition increases and tax rebate cuts follows the introduction of Bill 31 passed in March. The bill replaces a previous rule that capped tuition fee increases at the rate of inflation with new legislation that allows five per cent hikes plus the rate of inflation.

The former NDP government introduced the 60 per cent tuition tax rebate in 2007, as an incentive for new graduates to stay and work in Manitoba. Students got up to 60 per cent of their tuition paid back to them over six years through tax rebates. The rebate was extended in 2010, which allowed students still in post-secondary education to claim a five per cent rebate in advance.

Josh Driedger grew up in Altona and is attending the University of Manitoba to be a teacher. He says it's unfortunate the provincial government would choose to cut something that would affect people's
post-secondary education.

"For me personally, I've been fortunate enough to have family support, scholarships and bursaries, so it won't be the make or break in my education. However, for those who do not have support like me, this will definitely impact them in a different way."

Driedger went on to say many students he knows were not aware of the budget cut and after hearing the news they shared similar disappointment.

"Especially for U of M students affected by the recent strike in 2016. It just feels like students are being pushed to the bottom of the barrel of priorities for the provincial government right now," explained Driedger.

The province announced plans last month to provide $6.75 million to students through a Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative. Many students have said scholarships by themselves cannot fix the continued issue of increasing access to education, because they are given out based on academic merit, creating walls for low-income working class students.

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