What we know so far
On Saturday March 28, UCP Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced a $128-million cut to K-12 education funding as students move from classroom-based learning to computer-based learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This move is set to result in the temporary layoff of up to 20,000 education support staff, including AUPE members at Edmonton Catholic Schools and Living Waters Catholic Separate School Division, and will have a sweeping impact on communities across the province. As many as five thousand substitute teachers could also be affected, according to the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
Minister LaGrange has asked school boards to issue notices to affected workers – educational assistants, school transportation staff, substitute teachers and other support staff – immediately, informing them that layoffs will begin in April.
What does this mean for AUPE members?
Close to 458 AUPE members work in Alberta’s K-12 education system, supporting our communities’ students in their learning. Over the past three years, these members have fought hard for more stable resources and more consistent schedules in order to provide students the support they need, while being able to make ends meet for their own families.
Alberta’s K-12 support staff are no strangers to instability, and the news of looming layoffs is yet another hit to the backbone of the province’s education system.
While it will be up to the individual school authorities to choose who among their staff will be laid off, we do know educational assistants will be among the first to go. We’re concerned this will leave children with specialized learning needs in the dust. And, once again, education assistants and support staff are forced to push for the respect you deserve.
Even before the pandemic, Alberta’s schools were being short-changed, especially schools in rural Alberta. Budget 2020 spelled out the elimination of 138 teaching jobs and 106 non-teaching jobs in the K-12 system.
At a time when everyday people are coming together to push through this crisis, powerful people are trying to divide us. Our members know all of our public sectors need to be fully resourced in order to properly serve our neighbours. If the government had prioritized this yesterday, we wouldn’t be dealing with the fallout today.
Instead, they chose to make everyday Albertans pay for a $4.7-billion tax handout to rich corporations. The Alberta Teachers’ Association has set up a website that will connect you with your MLA via phone so that you can easily make your views about this devastating attack on public education and public sector workers known. We encourage members to do so.
While we continue to gather our strength and call for the quality schools students and school support staff have always deserved, your AUPE resource staff want you to have all the information you need to care for yourselves, your loved ones and your families during this trying time. Please visit AUPE’s Pandemic Response Information Hub to find out about the resources available to you.