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Alberta $8.8 billion education budget – plan to hire 3,000 new staff


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Alberta’s government is committed to providing the support and services students need to succeed, and the resources schools need to support teachers and their staff. Budget 2023 increases the operating budget for the Ministry of Education by nearly $2 billion over the next three years. This will support hiring up to 3,000 education staff, including teachers, educational assistants, bus drivers and school support staff.

In the 2023-24 school year, Alberta will spend about $8.8 billion on education for students in kindergarten to Grade 12, the equivalent of $44 million for every day students are in school and an increase of more than five per cent.

“School authorities in Alberta deserve a government that will support them in addressing this year’s unprecedented enrolment growth, be properly resourced to address complex learning needs, and make transportation safer and more affordable. This investment addresses rising enrolment, helps meet students’ diverse needs and helps school authorities combat inflation.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“Our children are our future and Budget 2023 ensures every child is supported in the classroom. By investing in our education system, we are ensuring students are prepared for success throughout their lives. While inflation continues to be a challenge, we are providing stable, predictable funding so school authorities can hire the staff they need to help students learn.”

Travis Toews, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Welcoming more students

Alberta’s booming economy led to one of its largest-ever population increases in 2022, which has meant more students in Alberta schools. Budget 2023 will provide increased funding to school authorities of $820 million specifically to support enrolment growth over the next three years.

This increased funding will begin the work to address class sizes by allowing school authorities to hire more teachers and classroom staff over the next three years. The increase will come through a variety of existing grants that include an enrolment component.

“Dozens of school projects are in the planning, design or construction phases right now across Alberta. Through Budget 2023, we’ll be adding approximately 20,000 more new and modernized student spaces that will help to ensure our kids get to go to school in their own communities in world-class facilities.”

Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Infrastructure

Meeting students’ unique needs

Budget 2023 includes almost $1.5 billion in Learning Support funding for Alberta’s most vulnerable students, those with specialized learning needs and those requiring additional help at school. This includes specialized learning supports, program unit funding, English as a second language, refugee students, First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

On top of the funding increase for enrolment growth, Budget 2023 also includes targeted funding of $126 million over three years to increase staffing. This funding will allow school authorities to hire more educational assistants or increase their hours, provide more training opportunities for staff and/or hire specialists such as counsellors, psychologists, interpreters and more teachers.

These additional supports will give schools the ability to work more closely with students who have diverse learning needs, such as those with disabilities or those learning English as an additional language. This new funding will be delivered through a new targeted grant to school authorities. Overall, Budget 2023 includes almost $1.5 billion in Learning Support funding for Alberta’s most vulnerable students, those with specialized learning needs and those requiring additional help at school.

To help close learning gaps caused by the pandemic, Alberta’s government will spend an additional $20 million over the next two years to assist students in grades 1 to 5. This increased funding builds off previous successes to help students regain literacy and numeracy skills.

Increasing affordability for transportation

School authorities will also receive an additional $414 million over the next three years through Budget 2023 to support increased transportation funding that will result in more students having access to provincially funded transportation services. This increased funding will lower fees charged to thousands of parents, address rural ride times and cost pressures, and address rising costs for driver training.

Budget 2023 highlights

  • Budget 2023 will increase staffing supports in complex classrooms by up to 10 per cent, which will enhance experiences and have positive effects on students’ personal and social development.
  • The government is investing $50 million to support mental health pilot projects over the next two years to improve K-12 students’ well-being.
  • Rising inflationary pressures are affecting school authorities and families. Budget 2023 will boost transportation funding to offset rising transportation costs like insurance, fuel and driver training. These costs are often passed on to Alberta families, so increasing the amount of funding available will decrease the parent fees associated with school transportation.

Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, keeping our communities safe, and growing the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Canada under pressure to produce more food, protect agricultural land: report

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Canada’s agricultural land is under increasing pressure to produce more food as demand grows domestically and internationally, while the industry grapples with limited resources and environmental constraints, a new report found. 

“We need to grow more food on less land and in a volatile climate,” said Tyler McCann, managing director of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute.

The report by the institute released Thursday looks at the pressures on Canada’s agricultural land to produce more food while also mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, said McCann. 

Despite Canada being a big country, it doesn’t have as much agricultural land as people might think, said McCann, with the report noting that agricultural land makes up only around seven per cent of the country. 

Because of that, we can’t take what we do have for granted, he said. “We need to be really thoughtful about how we are using our agricultural land.” 

In 2020, Canada was the eighth largest country in terms of cropland area, the report said, with that cropland decreasing by seven per cent over the previous two decades. 

Canada is a major producer and net exporter of agriculture and agri-food products, the report said, exporting $91 billion in products in 2022, and one of the top 10 exporters of wheat, canola, pulses, pork and beef. 

In the coming years, Canada will face increased demand from countries whose populations are growing, the report said. 

“With population growth on one side and climate change on the other, Canada will be amongst an increasingly smaller number of countries that is a net exporter,” said McCann, noting that Canada’s own population is growing, and farmland also needs to be protected against urban sprawl. 

The wildfires clouding Canadian skies this week are a “vivid reminder” of the pressure that extreme weather and the changing climate are putting on the agricultural sector, said McCann. 

“We need to clearly mitigate … agriculture’s impact on climate change. But we also need to make sure agriculture is adapting to climate change’s impacts,” he said. 

One of the ways the world has responded to demand for increased agricultural production over time is to create more agricultural land, in some cases by cutting down forests, said McCann. But that’s not a viable option for Canada, which doesn’t have a lot of land that can be sustainably converted into farmland — and even if it could, doing so could have a variety of adverse environmental effects, he said. 

Some of the practices used to reduce emissions and sequester carbon in agriculture can also improve production output on existing farmland, the report found, such as precision agriculture and no-till practices.

However, intensifying the production of current agricultural land also comes with potential environmental downsides, the report said.

For example, McCann said fertilizer is an important part of sustainable agriculture, but there’s a balance to be struck because excessive use of fertilizer can quickly turn food production unsustainable. 

“We need to be a lot more thoughtful about the inputs that we’re using,” he said, adding the same can be said about the use of technology in agriculture and the policies and programs put in place to encourage sustainable intensification of Canadian agriculture. 

The report recommends that Canada adopt policies that provide financial incentives and technical assistance to farmers and develop regulatory frameworks promoting sustainable land use, as well as promoting education and awareness campaigns, so that the country can “ensure the long-term sustainability of its agricultural sector while protecting the environment.”  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press

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Lawyer tells Alberta’s highest court review board biased in de Grood’s case

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