TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB - The Pallister Government is once again announcing something Manitoba Liberals called for months ago - distance learning while refusing to address teacher burnout and massive staffing shortages due to Covid-19.
Seven Oaks and Louis Riel School Divisions have already announced they are running out of substitute teachers. The Winnipeg School Division has announced they may only teach the children of "critical services workers" (poster attached). In the middle of a Code Red, the PCs have been distributing 10-year old masks that have been giving people rashes and making them nauseous.
"The time to invest in safety, distance learning and in staffing up was in August and September - when Manitoba Liberals were the only party calling for it," said Cindy Lamoureux, Manitoba Liberal Education Critic. "They are now calling for creating a "central repository" of resources for teachers when this Minister and this Government dismantled and defunded a library that did exactly that - the Curriculum Support Centre. There is no excuse for their lack of preparation and no excuse for holding back from hiring and investing right now."
There is still no clarity on what the PCs are actually spending. While Goertzen said, "At least $180-million will be spent this year" that is still less than the $48-million in savings, $52-million in supposedly new funding, and $85.4-million. That is still $5.4-million in federal funds unaccounted for.
"In August, Manitoba was the only province to commit zero new dollars to a safe return to school. They wanted to rely entirely on $48-million in savings. Then they said they would add $52-million. Then the feds kicked in $85.4-million. When I add that together, that is $185.4-million. But the Premier keeps saying 100 - and now the Education Minister says 180. This is not high finance. This is basic addition, and the PCs can't do it," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface.
A Freedom of Information request (FIPPA) asking for "allocation of spending by the Province from the Federal Safe return to Class Fund. Please provide a breakdown by School Division, and if possible, by school."
The Pallister Government's response from November 5th states, "The records you requested do not exist."
In August and September, Manitoba Liberals were the only party to support more than 17,000 teachers, parents and education workers in calling for a "Safe September" which included a call for remote learning, and remote work, small class sizes, mandatory masks, investments in better ventilation, full paid sick leave, and hiring additional supply teachers and EA.
Instead, the PCs waited, failed to inform schools about funds, didn't invest in remote learning, didn't hire, distributed 10-year old expired masks that gave teachers rashes and made them nauseous.
"We have heard there are teachers eating lunch in their cars because there is room for them to sit together safely. How is that going to work in January?" asked Lamont. "This government has got to stop making everyone else pay for their mistakes."