The UCP are using a pandemic to justify destroying education.

The UCP chose to issue a press release and a few twitter posts to announce the layoffs of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20,000 jobs today (a Saturday). At a time when the public sector may be one of the last reliable employers, Jason Kenney’s government chose to callously cut these jobs, leaving the federal EI program to support these people who relied on an income much more than they will be getting on EI.

Education minister Adriana LaGrange alleges this measure is “temporary”, but the UCP has established a track record of untrustworthiness, and I personally think this is textbook shock doctrine at work. Not only are they using this as a helpful distraction from the malfeasance of Tyler Shandro, they are using a national emergency as an excuse to defund our public education system, some of these jobs, I am sure, will never come back.

Among the jobs lost are educational assistants, whose jobs are JUST as crucial today as they were prior to schools closing. There are many special needs children who will be needing the guidance of their trusted EA’s in this time of transition, which will be incredibly difficult for them. Teachers are already spread incredibly thin, having to transition to a new form of teaching, creating lesson plans to be distributed online and are available to students for the assistance they require. These teachers are putting in 12-16 hour days since school closure to facilitate this transition and are frankly, working their asses off. Calling them non-essential is a slap in the face to both teachers and EA’s alike and is wholly emblematic of this government’s position in relation to education and the public sector.

While Alberta’s most vulnerable children are left in the lurch and school staff scrambling to make ends meet and apply for EI, the government is still funding their ridiculous “war room”, the Canadian Energy Centre, to the tune of $82,000 per day (or $30 million per year). Judging by the actions of our UCP government, continuing to produce propaganda for a sunsetting industry that has historically, had no trouble producing their very own propaganda, is more important than education; the truest investment a government can make in it’s people. This is all on top of the unprecedented amount of extraneous staffers as “issues managers”, “assistant deputy to the press secretary” and whatever other bullshit positions they’ve invented; ostensibly to provide patronage appointments for the dim-witted younger relatives of their primary donors. Austerity for thee, but not for me, as they say.

They say we all need to “tighten our belts” and that austerity is necessary because of our weak economic growth. They say this with a straight face, while Jason Kenney goes to Ottawa with his hand out, begging like a Dickensian waif for money from the federal government. They criticize the federal Liberals for not being spendthrift, then become the moochers that they’ve been vilifying the eastern provinces as.

Rank hypocrisy and callous indifference to the needs of the needs of Alberta’s working class seems to be the unifying theme for this UCP government. We need to be loud as ever in order to protect our most vulnerable. We cannot afford to allow this government to form for another term.

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