Today in Lethbridge, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith announced that a Wildrose government would ban all mandatory school fees. This builds on the Child Tax Credit that was announced yesterday (www.wildrose.ca/pledge). Despite PC support of this policy the Redford PCs promptly issued a faulty rebuttal to this Wildrose Family Pack announcement.
Here are the FACTS:
PC Claim: The Wildrose joined the NDP and Liberals in committing to eliminate school fees - if only they could agree on how much it would cost. The Wildrose estimates $40 - 80 million according to the Calgary Herald, the Liberals estimate $103 million according to their platform.
FACT: It is due to PC inaction that Wildrose conducted its own research by calling school boards and schools to collect the required information to form cost estimates. The Redford PCs knew that parents were being slapped with extra mandatory fees and only moved to request the necessary information from school boards on the eve of the provincial election. “Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said in a rec ent interview that he has directed department staff to compile a list of all fees that each of Alberta’s 62 boards charge parents.” (February 23rd, 2012, www.calgaryherald.com/Calgary+public+school+board+seeks+opinions+busing+costs+fees/6200215/story.html#ixzz1qeAmcw)
FACT: The PC Education Minister is on record opp osing mandatory fees. "All the necessary photocopies, textbooks and busing for those who need it is already paid for by my department," Lukaszuk said in an interview earlier this week "Any child from kindergarten to Grade 12 who . . . does not participate in an enriched program ought not to be charged with additional fees," he said. (February 15th, 2012, www2.canada.com/story.html?id=6159774&p=1)
PC Claim: Guy Boutilier and Rob Anderson called the restoration of $107 million in education funding by Premier Redford "crass politics" and the Wildrose voted against it.
FACT: Wildrose supported the restored funding. What Wildrose did not condone was Redford’s overly politicized motive for restoring this much needed funding. (http://www.wildrosecaucus.ca/education-funding-another-redford-broken-promise/)
FACT: Days before the PC Leadership vote Redford and the Alberta Teachers Association were caught in a golden handshake. Redford promised to increase their funding by $100 million “within 10 days of being sworn in as Premier” (http://www.stephentaylor.ca/2011/10/how-did-alison-redford-win/) and the ATA curiously issued a letter to their members stro ngly encouraging them to get involved in the PC leadership race and to “assess the candidates for their education platforms” (http://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20News/Volume%2046%202011-12/Number3/Pages/On-leadership-and-change.aspx).
PC Claim: The Wildrose Party voted against Budget 2012 and committed to tear up the teacher's contract while cutting education funding compared to Budget 2012.
FACT: Wildrose’s Alternative Budget hires more teachers and specifically stated a Wildrose government would continue building the planned schools as per the PC 2012 Budget.
FACT: Wildrose voted against budget 2012 for many reasons, namely because it wasn’t balanced. PC Claim: The Wildrose have committed to cutting infrastructure spending by 25%, putting many planned neighborhood schools at risk.
FACT: The Wildrose Alternative Budget merely suggested stretching the current three-year Capital Plan over four years. Schools are a high priority; only lower-priority infrastructure will be delayed one year - not cut.