While trying to stop Bill 22, Red Deer teachers were reportedly quick to reach out to their local MLAs, one of whom happens to be Education Minister Adriana LaGrange.
The legislation was passed Thursday, and among other things, it will force the transfer of teachers’ pension assets to the Alberta Investment Management Corp., a provincial Crown agency.
“They have been very active in the Red Deer area. Teachers were upset about it right from the get-go and generated over 32,000 emails to their MLAs,” said Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling.
“None of that was listened to, and swept aside, so teachers are incredulous over it. They’re angry. They’re frustrated.”
He said MLAs from across the province chose not to respond to the letters they received.
“You’re elected to represent people in your constituency. You represent every Albertan, not just the ones that voted for you. To not answer letters is disrespectful.”
The ATA is now looking at legal options to challenge the legislation.
Schilling said the pension transfer comes as school boards deal with a $275-million shortfall in the recent provincial budget and the job losses of colleagues around the province that includes 300 teachers in Calgary.
They also face larger class sizes and not enough support for students with a variety of needs.
“It creates a huge amount of uncertainty and anxiety in the field.”
Some boards have used reserves to address the funding cut, but are worried what comes next in spring budget, he said.
“The budget, as it was put down in October, said it would freeze funding for the next four years. We will have 60,000 extra students in education system in the next four years.”