Posted on Jun 4, 2020


LETHBRIDGE -- Parents of kids with complex needs are voicing concerns about less support for students after cuts to funding led to the elimination of educational assistants. 


On May 20, the Lethbridge School Division announced it was eliminating 31 educational assistants due to cuts to Program Unit Funding (PUF) by the UCP government. 


“Taking this support away from students is literally robbing them of any potential that we don’t know they have yet. That’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to the families,” said Hope Rudics from the Chinook Autism Society.

“Without the proper support, my son wouldn’t be thriving, he would just be shriveling. And cuts to these programs are not just devastating to him and his future, but all of the families involved,” said Chelsea Matisz whose five year old son is deaf and communicates through sign language.     

PUF supports early education for students who need extra help. It includes people like educational assistants, speech language pathologists, and occupational therapists. The program is meant to give students with disabilities a chance to keep pace alongside their peers as they enter the school system.


“Many of these kids are already struggling to keep up with their peers,” said Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West. “These cuts by the UCP will only make it harder for them to succeed.”


“Jason Kenney warns about a fiscal reckoning for Albertans, but behind closed doors he applies for a bailout from Justin Trudeau to protect UCP political staff. It’s one set of rules for these kids with complex needs and a completely different set of rules for Jason Kenney.”


In the UCP’s last budget, they announced the funding would no longer apply to kindergarten students. Negative reaction to the move from parents was swift. A local petition started by Phillips has already gathered 8,000 signatures in as little as two weeks.


“It shows just how important this issue is to parents,” said Phillips. “It’s time the UCP started listening to these parents instead of only looking after their friends and insiders. They need to reverse these cuts immediately.”