Alberta Education committed to cutting school fees 'next year'

Alberta parents didn't get a break on school fees this year, but the NDP government is working on cutting them in half next year.

'Spike in school fees to record levels' questioned by opposition

Education Minister David Eggen said he is still collecting information on what school boards are charging in school fees. (CBC )

Alberta's NDP government remains committed to cutting school fees in half, but not this year.

Education Minister David Eggen has asked the province's school boards to provide his department with a detailed accounting of how much they charge parents.

"It was a, I think, a responsible decision to make sure we know what's out there and we can make sure that we have a sustainable education system for everybody that's affordable, too," he said.

During the election campaign, the NDP promised to "invest $45 million to reduce school fees by half, with a particular focus on banning lunch supervision fees," regardless of family income.

Relief for parents paying hundreds and even thousands of dollars in school fees wasn't part of the $103 million in funds restored to the education budget on Sept. 1.

Adding to the financial pressure is a drop in the oil price forecast in the spring budget and a looming deficit of $6 billion. 

"Mandatory school fees hit low income families the hardest," Wildrose opposition said in a statement, calling the fees a "regressive tax that must be abolished."

"I"m not happy with the school fee situation and I intend to solve it," said Eggen.

The minister wants to eliminate charges for learning materials such as workbooks which are not optional as well, he says.


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