August 19, 2020
Kinew: Mandate Masks, Hire Teachers with Hundreds of Millions from Pallister’s Failed Programs
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB—The Manitoba NDP is calling on the Pallister government to make use of the nearly $190 million in unused funding from their failed COVID-19 programs, as well as the money committed to the ‘Ready, Safe, Grow’ advertising campaign, by investing it in measures to keep students and staff safe as schools return in September.
“The Pallister government’s COVID-19 response and advertising campaigns have been a failure because they don’t actually help families and businesses recover. It’s time to actually put Manitobans’ money to good use,” said Kinew. “We’re proposing a plan to invest funding in schools to support the safety measures teachers, educators and families are calling for. Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. The Premier should do the right thing—stop buying billboards and start investing in safe schools.”
The province has announced several failing programs for businesses, workers amounting to a just under a $300 million total commitment. To date, however, government statements and media reports show barely a third has been spent so far leaving nearly $190 million unused.
Kinew urged the province to redirect funding from the failing programs and instead invest in schools to help prepare for a safe return to the classroom. He called on the government to invest in funding be spent to help schools mandate masks, hire more teachers, strengthen the substitute teacher pool, make smaller class sizes smaller, upgrade ventilation systems, improve at-home learning resources and add other essential supports.
In July the NDP Official Opposition announced an alternative return to school plan that focused on capping class sizes at 15 students while creating more classrooms and hiring additional teachers. So far the Government has refused to offer any investment to make the return to school safe.
“I think a safe return to school is possible. However, schools need more money so they can follow the same health guidelines as the rest of society. I just can’t understand how it’s safe for my seven-year-old to be inside a classroom without a mask and without 2 metre distancing,” said Tessa Nussbaum, a local mother who’s concerned about the return to school plan. “I really hope the province does the right thing and make investing in schools a priority.”