The leader of Manitoba's official opposition is concerned school divisions have had to slash their 2021/22 budgets, because of what he says is reduced provincial funding and a government mandate to hold the line on local property taxes.
In particular, Wab Kinew points to Border Land School Division which announced last week it cut $875,000 from its upcoming budget in order to balance the books, resulting in cuts to capital projects, early childhood education, professional development, school discretionary budgets, student services and clinician budgets, technology and staffing.
Kinew says it's been made clear this past year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, schools need more support.
"There's been all of the additional needs in the classroom...plus the additional demands of remote learning, it really seems as though education needs more investment right now rather than cutbacks," said Kinew.
He noted cuts to local education hits what families have historically relied on to set down roots in a community.
Meantime, Kinew says his party is preparing to stall passage of the Progressive Conservatives' education reform bill, Bill 64, by six months in an effort to allow local school divisions and communities an extended opportunity to speak out and share how the proposed changes will impact them.
"If we're seeing cutbacks like this already, that are not just cutting back administration but also in the classroom with fewer teachers and clinicians, it seems like it's setting this whole new education bill off on the wrong foot," said Kinew. "So, hopefully, the provincial government will hear the concerns around education in the classroom and look to take a better approach."