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The Premier misleads Manitobans when he says school boards spend most of their time on local taxes and bargaining with teachers

The  Premier has repeatedly said that most of the time of school boards is taken up with bargaining with teachers and dealing with local taxes.  In fact, in my discussions with school trustees, they say this is incorrect that the actual time is much lower - closer to 5%.   The Premier uses this misleading claim as a basis for getting rid of school boards. On Tuesday, March 23rd, I asked the Premier why he is misleading Manitobans in this way.  My question, in Question Period, and the Premier's response are below (from Hansard).   Anyone who questions the 5% figure I use can click on this video link for a conversation I had with Wendy Bloomfield the long time chair of the Seine River School Division.  

Education Modernization Act - Elimination of School Boards

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the Premier has said that school boards have spent most of their time agonizing over local taxes and bargaining with teachers over wages, yet I have talked to school trustees and they tell me the proportion of time spent in these two activities is closer to 5 per cent, far less than the Premier's estimate.

      Did the Premier feel that he had to provide inaccurate information about school boards to justify putting forward Bill 64 because the real facts wouldn't support his elimination of elected school boards?

Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): The member's logic, Madam Speaker, would escape any trustee in our province who is objectively looking at the situation. He could talk to colleagues in this room, if he would choose to, who would tell him the proportion of work that is spent on these issues is very large for trustees. Negotiating in each school division takes tremendous time and effort, and we respect the work of trustees over many years in doing it.

      Also, Madam Speaker, because we're changing the system to centralize the bargaining, that work is no longer needing to be done. The collection of local taxes and the establishment of the mill rate takes onerous work and the calculations and the tabulations that must be done are tremendous. He could ask any of a half a dozen people in this room who've done this work.

      He belittles the work of trustees. We do not, Madam Speaker. We respect the work of trustees in the past, but the work is not the work that we're going to do, going forward, to empower our teachers in the classroom.

      And so, again, the Liberals and NDP are sure that the present system is fine for them, but if it doesn't work for the children of our province, it doesn't work for this government either.


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