The United Conservative government in Alberta announced Saturday that it would be temporarily cutting education funding during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

While most Canadian jurisdictions are working to stave off job losses, the Kenney government is effectively setting off an unprecedented mass lay-off. The funding cut is expected to result in roughly 20,000 education workers losing their jobs. The Alberta Teachers’ Association claims that the number is closer to 25,000, roughly 1 percent of the province’s entire labour force. The mass layoff is likely the largest in Canadian history

“Jason Kenney is doing harm to students with complex needs, their families, and to tens of thousands of Alberta workers,” says Sarah Hoffman, NDP Opposition Critic for Education. In a press release, she called the move “pure cruelty.”

Responding to criticisms of the mass lay-offs, the Kenney government iterated that affected staff would be eligible for the new federal income supports. Critics have accused Kenney of uploading costs to the federal government.

Alberta’s Education Minister has directed boards to begin issuing immediate notices of their impending layoffs, with the expectation being that they will be out of work by late April.

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