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Dr. Swann questions Premier and Minister of Education on their commitment to sustainable education funding

November 19, 2009

The following is copied from the November 17, 2009 (afternoon) printed transcripts of the Legislative debate and discussion.


Dr. Swann (Calgary-Mountain View Lib): Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government seems content to leave wasteful spending on everything

from executive bonuses and slick public advertising untouched. Instead,

again they turn to health care and education as the first targets for cuts.

My question is to the Premier. Will the Premier make a firm and

unshakeable commitment to Albertans and to future teachers who

were demonstrating on the steps today that he will protect public

education from short-sighted cutbacks?


Mr. Stelmach (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville PC): Mr. Speaker,

with respect to the bonuses that the member has referred to, those have

been eliminated. That will provide a saving this year of something around

$44 million. With respect to the secondary and postsecondary, in terms

of secondary, K to 12, the minister has met with the individuals that

were here to talk about some of what they think was the correct

information in terms of how the minister is proceeding. He had an

opportunity to talk with them, and I’m certain that on the second

question he’d be able to respond in terms of the dialogue that he had.


Dr. Swann: Well, we’ve been here before, Mr. Speaker. Our

schools are barely recovering from the 20 per cent cuts inflicted in

the governments of the 1990s. We’ve still got the lowest high

school graduation rate in the country. Will the Premier at least

acknowledge here and now that these extreme cuts have damaged

our credibility and our graduating and should never be repeated?


The Speaker: The hon. minister.


Mr. Hancock (Edmonton-Whitemud PC): Thank you. Mr. Speaker,

the only people that are talking about extreme cuts are the ATA in their

advertising campaign. What I’ve been talking about with school boards

and superintendents is understanding that we’re in a fiscal situation,

using that fiscal situation to its best advantage in examining

everything we’re doing to determine whether we’re doing the right

things and whether we’re doing them in the right way. That’s what

we’re up to. It’s not a question of massive cuts or destroying the

system. We’ve got the best education system in North America and

certainly one of the best in the world, and we’re going to continue to

provide the proper educational opportunities for every child in this



Dr. Swann: Our schools have ridden this government’s boom-and-bust

fiscal roller coaster for far too long. When is this Premier going

to start treating education as an investment by delivering a plan for

sustainable funding to our children and teachers? When?


Mr. Stelmach: Mr. Speaker, we do have a sustainable plan. It’s one

of the reasons we’ve saved $17 billion in what we call a sustainability

fund. We’re going to use that $17 billion to cushion the rapid

drop in the revenue stream to the province. That will cover about

three-quarters of the perceived revenue loss over the next few years,

and the other quarter will come from adjustments in our budget.

We’ll be working through those over the next number of weeks, and

we will deliver a budget that’s going to reflect the priorities of

Albertans. (1808)

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