I want to acknowledge the teachers, educational assistants and support staff for their hard work and commitment to make sure our children continue to be educated during these trying times. With the cases of COVID-19 on the rise in our region, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe.
I, like many others, have been troubled with this government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government has failed our children when it comes to education. Manitobans went into lockdown to give the government time to make plans on how best to keep everyone safe, yet they failed to create a meaningful plan. The NDP provided a back to school plan that put children, teachers, EAs and support staff at the forefront. We have continued to call for smaller class sizes and more supports for students to ensure a safe return.
The provincial government put Manitobans at risk by not putting any money forward to keep children safe in order to protect their bottom line. They instead waited on federal funds – which came after school started – before flowing (strictly federal) money to schools. It’s apparent their COVID plan was focused on getting parents back to work, not about making sure children can be educated safely.
There needs to be a greater investment made in education in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the high levels of burnout we’ve been hearing about from educators. More staff need to be hired and more investments need to be made in order to ensure social distancing can take place in schools.
What is more troubling is that the PCs are trying to push their K-12 education review while we are in a pandemic. The education minister refuses to make the education report public while trying to ram through changes on education in Manitoba. It is especially concerning given the education minister’s praise for private charter schools and members of cabinet praising Alberta for their work, even though they fired hundred of educators in the midst of a pandemic. Now is the time to start showing leadership and investing in education, not trying to push through their cut and slash agenda.
There also needs to be an investment in technology in the north as the pandemic has highlighted how much we rely on technology, especially with some schooling moving online. As cases continue to rise, we need to ensure that families and communities have the access to the technology needed. This is a key role the provincial and federal government must play.
The provincial government has not advocated on behalf of Manitoba’s First Nations either, as they have not requested that the federal government increase funding for First Nations to deal with COVID. These funds are urgently needed to keep children, teachers, EAs and support staff safe.
I will continue to stand up for northern education and Manitoba’s First Nations communities.
Feel free to contact me with any concerns at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me at 204-677-2744.