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Alberta NDP pledge more support for kids with complex needs

UCP say they already boosted funding for testing children with complex needs
Alberta NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman joined Red Deer North NDP candidate Jaelene Tweedle to promise to hire more teachers, classroom aides and embark on more school modernizations if their party wins Monday’s election. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

The Alberta NDP are promising to help kids with learning disabilities get needed therapies while also hiring more teachers and classroom support staff, if elected.

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman joined Red Deer- North NDP candidate Jaelene Tweedle to make this announcement behind Red Deer’s Annie L. Gaetz School on Thursday.

“I believe every child deserves an opportunity for success,” said Hoffman. She blamed the UCP government for neglecting students by cutting in-class supports and some of the program unit funding that helped three- and four-year-olds gain access to speech and language therapists, audiologists, and other critical assistance before entering kindergarten.

An NDP government would restore program unit funding, she added, as well as hire 4,000 more teachers to reduce classroom sizes and 3,000 more aides to help students in need over the next four years.

Tweedle, a school advocate and volunteer, said “devastating” education cuts by the UCP are part of what led her to run. “The UCP promised to support students and parents but instead turned its back on them, under-spending the education budget by $1 billion over the past two years,” she added.

“Regardless of their unique educational needs, every student should feel supported and involved in their learning experience,” said Tweedle.

UCP Red Deer-North candidate Adriana LaGrange rebutted these comments, saying “This recent tour of NDP candidates is a prime example of their negative fear and smear campaign tactics.”

She said the UCP government has increased funding in the disability sector by $600 million in the last 7 months. “Just last week leader Danielle Smith announced an additional $5-million boost for testing, educational supports for children with autism and other complex needs.”

LaGrange added her government spent over $8.8 billion on educational operating funding in the 2023-24 fiscal year. “That is $44 million every day our kids are in schools.”

She said school boards also have “healthy taxpayer-funded operating reserves, at over $400 million. This education funding at historic levels will allow school boards to invest in hiring more teachers, educational assistants, and support all students in their learning.”

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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