Taxpayers fund schooling for trade workers’ children

CALGARY — Alberta taxpayers are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to cover private school tuition for children of international trade office workers around the globe.

CALGARY — Alberta taxpayers are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to cover private school tuition for children of international trade office workers around the globe.

Liberal finance critic Hugh MacDonald, who released the information from Public Account documents, says the money should be spent on health or education in Alberta.

The government documents show $58,726 was spent at Washington International School, while $168,186 went to the Munich International School and more than $100,000 was paid to private schools on Vancouver Island.

Mike Deising of International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs defended paying the tuition costs, saying an international education is necessary for children living abroad.

He says nine children are involved and the average cost of tuition is $24,000 a year.

Alberta operates 10 international trade offices in nine countries — China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, England and the United States.

While it may seem expensive, it would be hard for the government to send workers abroad then not help with the cost of tuition for their children, said Scott Hennig, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Legitimately, you’re not going to have someone go (to China) for three or five years and put their kid in a Chinese language public school where they don’t know anything and can’t understand the language, no parent is going to do that.”

Macdonald said the government workers are getting a good wage for working in these offices.

“If you’re interested in your child attending an elite private school then you can pay up,” he said.

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