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The human cost of the UCP government

Dear Editor,

The UCP has had a disastrous start to the year, from attacks on GSA to increases in income tax and School Requisition fees, to cuts in services, but there are a decisions that impact my kids that I’m a bit stressed about on a personal level.

1) Bringing back provincial achievement tests for Grade 3 and making them mandatory. Grade 3 PATs don’t help educational outcomes. Instead, the test forces teachers to teach to an exam, rather than to the adaptive learning needs of the students. It puts undue stress on the kids, as well, to assess a small segment of what they learned with no valuable results.

Spend the money on the classroom instead.

2) Cuts to the Class Size Initiative for kids in kindergarten to Grade 3 (K-3). Both of my school-age kids lie in this band, where class sizes ideally are 17 kids in a classroom. On average, Rocky View Schools has about 21.4 kids in a K-3 class, which is already too high.

With these cuts, class sizes will get bigger, and the aides and supports will likely start to taper off. This means less one-on-one instruction, and reduced learning outcomes. Students with diverse needs will get less of the support they need to succeed.

It’s not fair to the teachers, the schools or to my kids to take away from their education, to pay for a massive corporate tax break that hasn’t done anything for Alberta.

3) My youngest has a seizure condition. It’s largely controlled with medication, and we have a fantastic team of doctors working with him. We hope he will eventually grow out of it, but seizures aren’t a joke. The UCP has cut funding for ambulance services, and that concerns me, for the health of my kid.

Ambulance services are already dealing with burnout. A friend I have in EMS tells me paramedics have one of the highest rates of suicide of any profession, they struggle to keep up with population growth, and cuts to funding and wages will only serve to increase their stress load.

Without more funding, this government is putting my kid, and others, at risk of severe brain damage – or worse – in the case of ambulance delays during an emergency condition seizure.

In the light of budget discussions, and the image of dollar signs floating by, people forget these services aren’t just a nice to have, that cuts to them come with a real, human costs, too. It’s my kids that will be feeling those cuts, and I’m disappointed to see this happening because our UCP government would rather fund oil companies moving operations to Saskatchewan and the United States through tax breaks, instead of taking care of its citizens’ well-being.

I think it’s important you see the impact this is having, not just on your bubble, but on the lives of those who use these services to survive.

Steve Durrell


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