In a press briefing this week, Premier Jason Kenney told reporters that the Alberta government’s decision to lay off an estimated 26,000 education workers comes from advice given by public health officials. “The lay-offs are a result of the advice of our public health officer to close the schools,” he said.

The Premier makes the case that the layoffs are to be expected – comparing the situation to other workers being laid off by corporations during the COVID-19 crisis. However, no other province has thrown out public employees on such a massive scale.

Of those hardest hit by these cuts will be Education Assistants (EAs), which the Kenney government contends will not be needed in the switch to online learning. However, as the Alberta Teacher’s Association has revealed, these same EAs are currently aiding teachers with the increased workload caused by this abrupt transition.

The 26,000 lay-offs are expected to create $128 million in savings. While Alberta, along with every other level of government, will experience a drop in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has not stopped the Premier from spending $1.5 billion to bail out the Keystone XL pipeline. As NDP Leader Rachel Notley has put it “they found ($1.5 billion) but they couldn’t find ($128 million) for 20,000 people helping disabled kids across this province”

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