March 6, 2020
Winnipeg, MB – This afternoon, the City of Winnipeg’s Executive Policy Committee tabled their draft budget which included the proposed removal of the U-Pass program, the service most used by UMSU’s over 25,000 undergraduate student members.
This is a deeply disturbing decision that calls into question city council’s desire to support students and do its part to combat climate change.
The U-Pass has been an extremely successful program for four years at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, evidenced last year by the city’s endorsement of expanding the program to include Red River College beginning in 2020/2021.
Since its rollout in 2016, the U-Pass program has led to a 25% increase in ridership along routes to the universities and takes upwards of 7,000 vehicles off the road city-wide each Monday-Friday, reducing both carbon emissions and traffic congestion.
Even when city council recently proposed an increase of nearly $50 per year to the program to accommodate the inclusion of Red River College, students came out in record numbers in referendums in February at both the U of M and U of W to determine continued enrolment in the U-Pass program, with more than 75% of voters endorsing the program at both universities – over 9,000 students casting their ballot at the University of Manitoba alone.
Remarked UMSU President Jakob Sanderson: “In the face of rising education costs, by having more students vote ‘Yes’ in this year’s referendum than voted in total in the 2015 referendum to adopt the U-Pass, students displayed the type leadership on climate action that the city ought to take a cue from.”
He added: “If the city has any intention of displaying leadership in the face of a climate emergency, it is seriously undermining that effort by disregarding the wishes of students from across the province that attend Winnipeg’s two largest universities, and slashing one of the city’s most successful programs without any warning.”
In January, 81 per cent of students surveyed by UMSU said they believed the U-Pass program is important to improving environmental sustainability in the city of Winnipeg, based on over 3,000 responses.
The budget will be considered by the entirety of city council on March 25. UMSU asks students across Manitoba to pack the gallery and demand this city hear our united voice in opposition to their approach.
For media inquiries please contact:
Jakob Sanderson, UMSU President – email@example.com, p. 204.880.7367