Posted on Mar 28, 2020


EDMONTON -- Premier Jason Kenney is pushing tens of thousands of Albertans into unemployment amid a deadly pandemic by cutting crucial supports for Alberta students.

On Saturday afternoon, the government released a brief statement indicating that funding for educational assistants, substitute teachers, bus drivers and others was being withheld from schools during the coronavirus pandemic. In total, Kenney is cutting $128 million from the school system.

“This is pure cruelty,” said Sarah Hoffman, NDP Opposition Critic for Education. “Jason Kenney is doing harm to students with complex needs, their families, and to tens of thousands of Alberta workers.”

“What kids need right now is stability and support with their learning at home. Jason Kenney doesn’t seem to care about that. 

Hoffman noted many students are already struggling as they adjust to learning at home. Now, there will be substantially fewer supports to help them. As recently as March 18, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange promised Albertans that all funding for students with complex needs would be maintained.

“That was yet another lie and a broken promise to families with special needs from Minister LaGrange, and perhaps the cruelest one of all,” Hoffman said.

At last count there were more than 16,000 educational assistants supporting students with complex needs across Alberta.

This wave of K-12 layoffs come days after Kenney also proceeded with thousands of layoffs in the post-secondary system. These jobs losses will do even more damage to Alberta’s reeling economy and put even more stress on working families struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Instead of standing by these hardworking Albertans, as he has urged private employers to do, Jason Kenney is pushing thousands of people onto a massively overwhelmed federal unemployment insurance program. He is deliberately creating new suffering and misery for tens of thousands of families already under extreme mental health pressures.”