Nova Scotia

Tax breaks urged for teachers buying school supplies

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union is renewing its call for greater support for members who spend their own money on supplies for their classrooms.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union estimates average teacher spends $525 annually on supplies

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union wants a tax break members who spend their own money on supplies for their classrooms. (CBC)

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union is renewing its call for greater support for members who spend their own money on supplies for their classrooms.

Catherine Boulaine, the vice-principal at Westmount Elementary School in Halifax, said teachers go to great lengths to make sure their students' needs are met.

"Some kids don't get lunch, so we have teachers that bring in food. They'll say, 'Catherine, here's some food' or put it in a stash if someone doesn't have a lunch today," she said.

"They do that, they buy supplies, they buy curriculum materials. I'm not saying every teacher, but I would say the majority of teachers are absolutely doing that."

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union estimates that on average, teachers spend about $525 of their own money on supplies each year.

Boulaine said the Halifax Regional School Board does its best to provide equal resources to each school, but some schools are better at fundraising and that can often create an imbalance in how much teachers spend out of pocket.

Linden Cochlan, a resource teacher at Westmount Elementary School, said she spends between $500 and $1,000 on supplies each year.

She said it has become part of the job and she doesn't mind if it improves her classroom, but she wants a tax credit.

"What I would like to see happen is government to provide us with a tax break here, please and thank you, because it comes out of my pocket," said Cochlan.

"I could keep all my receipts."

The Canadian Teachers' Federation is calling for a national tax break for such expenses. A program already exists in Prince Edward Island — the government in that province offers a credit of up to $500.

Lenore MacInnes, a Grade 4 teacher at Westmount Elementary School, said the school board and parents provide some supplies but there's always a need for more.

"I think for us it's changing so quickly and things continue to change and the needs that are in front of us continue to change and so we always have to be on top of it," she said.

"It's every year, it's constantly trying to keep up with the times."