Internal emails show NDP in damage control mode over transportation concerns

Alberta Liberals are releasing internal emails showing the NDP were in damage control mode over school transportation concerns in Calgary.

“It is troubling to see the government call the serious concerns of parents in Calgary ‘noise and confusion’,” says Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann. “The NDP were clearly aware of problems with the implementation of Bill 1 but chose spin over real action.”

The internal NDP email exchange was initiated by a parent urging the government to attend an information session with representatives from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Calgary Transit Service (CTS). The individual shares a personal story of the logisitical challenges and child safety concerns of using public transit for school, as well as the financial impact the transportation changes will have on struggling families. The emails ends with plea to “do the right thing for our children.”

The ministry admits the situation is challenging but directs NDP constituency offices them to “hold still on communicating” until a messaging strategy is devised.

“Calgary MLAs recognize the problem is wide spread and specifically hurts students in language schools,” says Swann. “But the problem remains. There’s been no indication of help for the CBE to solve these problems that the government created.”

A redacted copy of the email exchange is available for viewing here.


Calgarians sound the alarm over school transportation and bell times

Alberta Liberals are calling on the NDP government to take immediate action to address serious concerns over changes in transportation and bell times as a result of Bill 1.

“Minister Eggen needs to do more than just stage a photo op today,” says Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan. “He needs to come down to Calgary and listen to parents’ concerns, then take immediate action to rectify this completely unacceptable situation his government created by making a political decision without the necessary consultation.

“The unintended consequences of good, Liberal ideas being poorly implemented by the NDP is a pattern we’ve seen all too often.”

Alberta Liberals have heard repeated concerns from parents and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), stemming from the CBE’s attempts to accommodate the requirements imposed on it by Bill 1.

“Many parents are expressing real anxiety – not to mention serious doubts – that they’ll be able to make it all work,” says Calgary-Mountain View Liberal MLA David Swann. “For some, it could mean needing to dramatically alter their work schedules, or even re-evaluating their employment situations entirely. In other cases, before and/or after school care may be required to help bridge any gaps. Regrettably, not every family has viable options in these areas.

“If getting a break on school and busing fees means one parent having to quit a job or a family having to spend more money on child care, it’s hard to see that as progress.”

Swann points out that most parents affected have children in alternative programs, which includes French immersion. The issue becomes particularly problematic in situations involving feeder/affiliated schools, where families find themselves with children in more than one CBE school.

“The NDP are waging a war of attrition on non-traditional public education,” says Swann. “We saw a clear example of this when I proposed Bill 1 be amended to include public charter schools and the government refused.”

“Parents need clarity and predictability when it comes to their children’s education. So far, they have yet to receive either from the NDP.”


NDP attempt at City Charters fails to establish equal partnership

Alberta Liberals say the NDP government’s recent City Charter announcement falls well short of their expectations for an equal partnership with a clearly defined framework for jurisdictional, financial, and electoral reform.

“Alberta Liberals were the first to propose doing away with the paternalistic relationship between the provincial and municipal governments,” says Liberal MLA David Swann. “Compared to the relationship major municipalities in other Canadian jurisdictions enjoy, this falls well short of our expectations.”

Alberta Liberals first proposed the creation of Big City Charters in 2008. That call was repeated in 2012, and reaffirmed as official Liberal policy in 2015. Over that period, successive Progressive Conservative governments failed to make substantial progress on the issue, choosing instead to make repeated piecemeal amendments to the Municipal Government Act.

Swann points out that the NDP also promised to tackle controversial interjurisdictional issues such as oil and gas drilling within municipal boundaries. Yet, there appears to be no mention of them in the proposed changes.

“Liberals view Alberta’s two major cities as equal partners, not dependents who must come cap in hand to the provincial government,” says Swann. “They shouldn’t have to beg for permission or resources to meet the needs of their citizens, but be empowered through their own unique acts which resolve these jurisdictional issues, and clearly establish revenue generating and/or sharing powers.

“At the end of the day, the most important element here is municipal funding, and there is no new funding formula or commitment to establish one in this agreement.”


Calgary Herald: Band-Aids won’t remedy problems with EMS

The reports this month of frequent code reds, where no ambulance is available to respond to an emergency, are troubling.

They raise more questions about a system that has been teetering on the brink of tragedy for years.

Read More