Job creation, making life more affordable and protecting public services was the focus of a throne speech that opened a new session of the Alberta legislature on March 3. On the education front, the speech outlined the NDP government’s plan to reduce school fees and provide stable funding for public education.
“This year, in addition to eliminating certain school fees, your government will continue to provide stable, predictable funding to our schools, universities, colleges and institutes and will announce the approval and construction of new schools.”
Here are the education related excerpts from the speech:
Reducing school fees
“Every September parents across Alberta scramble to cobble together money to pay for a host of school fees. Rather than having a bit extra to put into savings or groceries or their mortgage, parents are forced to redirect their money to pay for education services. For years families have said enough is enough; the fees are too much. Yet school fees have grown and grown. This session your government will take a major step forward to make life more affordable for parents and families by eliminating instructional supply and material fees at Alberta’s public schools. Your government will also eliminate busing fees for children travelling to their designated school. The first bill tabled this session will start that work, by eliminating these fee categories in time for the start of the next school year. These changes will reduce total mandatory school fees by approximately 25 per cent. Work to further reduce school fees for families will continue.”
Strong public education
“Albertans want their children and grandchildren to fulfill their potential and realize their dreams. It’s for this reason that generations of Albertans built a strong public education system to provide our children with tools they need to lead productive and happy lives. It’s for this reason that through the economic downturn your government has made classroom education a top priority, including reversing planned cuts that would have taken teachers out of the classroom. Through the future-ready initiative we are freezing tuition, working with parents to modernize our curriculum, expanding access to student loans and investing in more apprenticeship and training. This year, in addition to eliminating certain school fees, your government will continue to provide stable, predictable funding to our schools, universities, colleges and institutes and will announce the approval and construction of new schools.”
Wildrose leader Brian Jean called the throne speech a repeat of a tired and failed agenda that has led to one of the worst economic records in Alberta’s history, one that has “left Albertans struggling after two straight years of massive tax hikes in the midst of recession.”
“The NDP is trying to claim that the government understands its core responsibility is to make life better for Albertans but have just spent two years making a bad situation much, much worse,” he said.
“Today, the NDP had a chance to change course in the best interests of Albertans, but they failed. Their tax agenda has made Albertans poorer, their budget has hurt future generations, they’ve driven investment out of our economy and they are limiting Alberta’s full economic potential.”