Supporting public education is one of the most important roles of the provincial government. A strong education system is vital to ensure that all children can reach their potential. It is crucial that we have a system which gives all children the opportunity they need, children from all parts of Manitoba and children with learning disabilities as well as those who learn easily.
It is therefore very hard to understand why the Pallister PCs feel they must attack some of the most critical people in our province – our teachers. Sadly this is the case.
Norm Gould, the President of the Manitoba Teachers Society, told members of the Manitoba Legislature, following the provincial election of April 19, 2016, he was “optimistic that we would be able to work with government to develop options to improve the government’s fiscal situation”. Even when the government started its attack on teachers, Mr. Gould said “the Manitoba Teacher’s Society remains committed to working with the Manitoba government to address these fiscal challenges in an authentic, meaningful way.”
But, sadly the Pallister government would not listen to and would not work with Mr. Gould and Manitoba teachers. Instead, as Mr. Gould has pointed out, the Pallister government unilaterally implemented its plan so that “over the next four years teachers will have contributed $271.5 million in lost income to the Minister of Finance and to this government.”
In its 2017 budget the government reduced the increase in the budget for school divisions to 1%. Last week the PC government announced it would only increase the budget for public schools by 0.5%. Further, 21 school divisions received cuts to their programs. These actions are hamstringing school boards and teachers in their efforts to teach young Manitobans and to give them opportunities.
But even more than the reduction in funding for public schools, the Pallister PCs have forgotten that they were elected on a promise to improve learning for students. The Pallister government has been in office two years and has yet to produce any vision or to implement actions to improve education. They have been solely fixated on attacking teachers, on decreasing the salaries of teachers and on reducing the pensions of teachers.
Last week, to add to the attacks on teachers, the Pallister government announced it will move, unilaterally, without even talking to teachers, to impose provincial bargaining on teachers. As Norm Gould has said to the teachers – “We were blindsided. Your salary will be frozen. Your pension will be reduced by 30%. The Pallister government will impose provincial bargaining on you and your colleagues starting July 1.”
As Mr. Gould has pointed out, his “proposals and openness to work with government were repeatedly dismissed.” He and the teachers of Manitoba have been betrayed by this government. It is abhorrent that the Pallister PCs continue to launch attacks on Manitoba teachers. Manitoba Liberals will stand up for teachers and for working with teacher in our province in our provincial effort to improve education for all.
Below is a press release our Liberal Caucus sent out today.
Manitoba Liberals Give PCs a Failing Grade on Education
WINNIPEG – Halfway through their four-year mandate, the Pallister government has done nothing to improve Manitoba’s education system. With twenty-one school divisions receiving cuts to their funding this year, the PCs have failed Manitobans.
The Pallister government has shown zero leadership on Indigenous education issues during a time when we’re seeing graduation rates for Indigenous students sitting at an alarmingly low rate of 47.6%, compared to 86.2% for non-indigenous students.
The cuts will also affect one of the most successful First Nation education projects in Canada. The local school board in Rossburn has a partnership with Waywayseecappo that sees federal funding being matched with local funding - but if local funding goes down, it will on the reserve as well.
Instead of working collaboratively with Manitoba Teachers to build a stronger education system, the PCs have blindsided them with a 0% pay increase, and reductions in support including in salaries and pensions. They have also failed to address critical gaps, for example in addressing learning disabilities.
We’ve seen countless studies that show education is a vital social determinant for involvement in our justice systems and employment. This is an issue about the future of Manitoba and where we want to see our province heading.
The PCs seem to think they can cut their way out of problems but they are only pushing those issues onto future generations to solve. We need ideas, not cuts.
Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader
Judy Klassen, MLA for Kewatinook
Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Burrows
Jon Gerrard, MLA for River Heights
(204) 771 – 2513