April 25th, 2024

Alberta ranks lowest in per-student education spending

By Medicine Hat News on February 29, 2024.

Data from Statistics Canada found Alberta spends less on education per student than all other provinces. Grade 3 students at St. Francis Xavier are pictured in this 2017 News file photo.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

New data from Statistics Canada finds that Alberta spends less on education per student than all other provinces.

Data released last week shows Alberta’s operational expenditures by school boards across the province totalled $11,601 per student in the 2020/21 school year – down more than $1,700, or 13 per cent, from the national average of $13,332 per student.

Alberta Teachers Association president Jason Schilling is hoping to see a 13 per cent increase in funding from today’s provincial budget which will be tabled shortly after 3 p.m.

“That equates to about a little bit over $1 billion,” says Schilling. “That’s how far behind our students are.

“And the funding is important because it helps teachers address class size issues. But it also ensures that the students in our classrooms who need extra support are getting that support.”

This would equate to approximately $10 a day per student per day of school.

“Thursday’s budget will be an interesting test for government,” says Schilling. “Will it make Alberta’s students a priority and move them toward the level of funding provided to every other student in Canada, or will it continue to make excuses, overcrowd classrooms, under support students and demand more from teachers to keep the system afloat?”

Schilling says since health restrictions have lifted following the pandemic teachers in Alberta schools are being asked to do more in terms of addressing student needs and classroom sizes.

“Colleagues are worried that more kids are going to fall through the cracks,” says Schilling.

The ATA is also concerned with the time restraints put on students who require academic assessments and says the government needs to provide schools board with more funding this fiscal year to hire more educational assistants and support staff.

“Alberta students deserve better,” says Schilling. “The premier used a province-wide TV address to forecast budget funding that would not keep up with enrolment growth and inflation.

“For public education, this is nothing new. It’s been our reality for years and that is how we have ended so far behind every other province.”

New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, B.C and Ontario also fall below the national average in education spending, while Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Manitoba and Quebec were above the national average.

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