Thousands join budget-cut protest outside Alberta legislature
'I hope they're hearing what we have to say', teacher says
Thousands of people congregated outside the Alberta legislature on Thursday to protest spending cuts included in the provincial budget being tabled inside the building.
The protesters, waving signs and shouting slogans, tied up traffic on Jasper Avenue as they marched through downtown Edmonton to gather on the steps of the legislature.
The huge crowd included teachers, nurses and doctors.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, Edmonton police issued an advisory to motorists that delays could be expected in the area because an expected rally "will likely impact commutes for motorists, pedestrians and transit users."
Grade 6 teacher Janice Pinnok attended Thursday's rally and said she hopes the province will change its mind on education funding.
"I hope they're hearing what we have to say. I hope they understand we're not going to sit back, be quiet and accept this garbage. I hope they're going to do something about this," she said.
Retired teacher Lyndy Antoniuk was also at the rally. She taught with Edmonton Public Schools for more than 30 years, and said she fears Alberta's education system and its quality will be compromised with budget cuts.
"What I would like to see is a recognition that public education is in fact, a benefit to society and it's not something that you start carving away to balance your budget," said Antoniuk.
Organizer Heather Quinn said there will be more protest from teachers if the budget doesn't prioritize education.
"We keep putting the pressure on. I don't think there's anything else to say about that," she said.
"The government has made it very clear that they're not going to back down from cutting public sector workers or the public sector in general. We have to keep the pressure on. That's what it comes down to," Quinn said.