Reaction from those in the education sector to the first NDP budget is mostly positive but the Alberta Teachers’ Association says the ghosts of budgets’ past linger.
ATA spokesman Jonathan Teghtmeyer said large class sizes, inadequate support for special needs students and a lack of programming for English as a Second Language learners still have to be addressed.
“There are still a lot of issues haunting education in Alberta,” Teghtmeyer said.
He said the government needs to take a serious look at the revenue side of the budget if education is to be a priority.
Helen Clease, president of the Alberta School Boards Association, added that the government kept its word from the summer on funding for new growth.
“At first blush, looking at this budget, there’s no surprises,” Clease said.
She added they will keep pushing for flexibility in funding at the local school board level and for stable, predictable funding.
On the post-secondary side, University of Alberta provost Steven Dew said the government delivered on promises, but future years are still murky.
“Basically, the government is following through on the position and the promises they made in the spring,” Dew said.
Meanwhile, a Calgary-based poverty elimination organization is applauding the introduction of the Alberta Child Benefit.
“An Alberta Child Benefit is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty because it puts money directly in the pockets of families that need it,” said Jeff Loomis, executive director at Momentum. “We are excited about the opportunity to meaningfully reduce child poverty in our province.”
Friends of Medicare is happy to cease the corporatization of health care, but wants to see more Alberta budget details on the Primary Care Networks.
Friends of Medicare executive director Sandra Azocar said there appears to be a move towards investment in Alberta’s health system.
“We’re going to finally start opening up the door and changing the course we were on before from a corporate culture into a vision of expanding and protecting our public health care,” Azocar said after Tuesday’s budget.
But Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the health care workers’ union, said the mess made by the former provincial government can’t be fixed in a year.
“We support the government’s capital plan to build and expand health infrastructure, which will include work on the new Calgary Cancer Centre, as well as redeveloping the Misericordia and Royal Alexandra Hospitals in Edmonton. Albertans have had enough horror stories about flooding in hospitals and aging facilities. It’s time to fix these problems. We also welcome plans to expand access to long-term care and hope that plans will include a new public laboratory facility in Edmonton,” said Elisabeth Ballermann, president of HSAA.
“While addressing the problem of crumbling infrastructure that did not keep up with Alberta’s growth, we urge the government to remember that those new beds are useless without the health-care workers who are needed to staff them.”