Edmonton

UCP government commits to funding student enrolment growth

Growth in school enrolment will be covered by the government this fall, Finance Minister Travis Toews said in the legislature Monday.

Enrolment will be "fully funded for this upcoming year," finance minister says

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews will introduce the government's first budget this fall. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Growth in school enrolment will be covered by the government this fall, Finance Minister Travis Toews said in the legislature Monday.

"I'm pleased to confirm today that proposed enrolment growth will be fully funded for this upcoming year," Toews said in response to a question from NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman.

Hoffman said she had asked the government the same question about 10 times and commended Toews for finally giving her an answer.

She told reporters she believes the United Conservative government had been pressured by parents.

"I think the pushback was probably intense and they probably relented," Hoffman said.

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The NDP Official Opposition has estimated Alberta schools will see an additional 15,000 students this fall at a cost of $140 million to $180 million.

Hoffman said the numbers were calculated from school board estimates. CBC has asked the government for what enrolment growth Toews is promising to fund.

However, Toews wouldn't commit to funding the $15.5-million school-lunch pilot program started under the NDP government.

The NDP says the program, which was launched in 2016 and expanded in 2017 and 2018, was providing meals to about 33,000 students each day.

The UCP is expected to table its first budget this fall which will rely on recommendations from a panel headed by former Saskatchewan finance minister Janice MacKinnon.

The panel has been tasked with finding ways to cut government spending and get Alberta back to balanced budgets by 2023.

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