Bill 1 will make lives better for Alberta families

By David Eggen, MLA for Edmonton-Calder and Minister of Education.

Our government is making practical changes to make your life more affordable. A perfect example of this is the introduction of Bill 1: An Act to Reduce School Fees.

Two years ago, our government ran on a platform commitment to reduce the burden of school on Alberta families. The introduction of this important piece of legislation is us following through on the commitment.

All told, this legislation will save Albertans more than $50 million annually.

I have travelled across the province and spoken to thousands of families in my near-two years as Minister of Education about the unfair burden that schools place on them. These fees act as a barrier to a public education, one which should not exist for students, no matter their circumstances.

The previous government stood by and watched as costs on parents piled up every September -and they did nothing. This is money that could be better spent on food, clothing, the mortgage and other life necessities.

Our government is doing things differently. If passed, Bill 1 will eliminate instructional supplies and material fees for the parents of nearly 600,000 Alberta students. Starting this fall, paying for textbooks, workbooks, printing and paper costs incurred by schools and much more will be a thing of the past.

Bill 1 will also remove fees charged to students who live outside of the School Act’s defined walk limit and ride the bus to their designated school. All told, this legislation will save Albertans more than $50 million annually.

We will also launch a series of conversations about school fees, and about what actually makes up a public education. Our goal will be to reduce fees even more in the years ahead. All the while, we continue to protect and improve education, even in difficult economic times, because we know the difference it makes in the lives of our future generations. We have committed to stable and predictable funding in Budgets 2015 and 2016 and we know that money has been used to hire 1,100 additional teachers and to retain 800 existing jobs that would have otherwise been lost under the previous government.

So join me and my colleagues in celebrating Bill 1 and our government‘s efforts to make your lives better.

Published in the Lamont Leader, March 7, 2017.