Last month, Brian Pallister and his PC government introduced The Education Modernization Act (Bill 64) into the Legislature. If passed into law, this bill will completely dismantle the public education system in Manitoba as we know it.
Bill 64 will create a massive centralization of power within the provincial government as it proposes to dissolve all English language school boards in Manitoba, including our own St. James Assiniboia School Division. This means that instead of having local voices influencing what happens in our schools, all decisions relating to educational programming in West Winnipeg will be made by a centrally appointed ‘education authority’ with no understanding of local needs and zero accountability to families in our community.
Locally developed programs such as the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, which offers low-income kids in St. James an opportunity to play hockey, will be placed at risk as a result of the centralization process. Other important local programs ,such as our Grade 3 swim program, and the much-loved Literacy Links program, are also likely to be defunded once our local division is eliminated.
Child care centres currently located in our schools will also be under threat as there will be nothing stopping a centrally appointed education authority from deciding to overtake the school spaces they presently occupy. Many of these child care centres were fought for by our local school division and, without a local champion, they could easily be lost.
The PCs argue that the purpose of Bill 64 is to improve the educational performance of Manitoban students, but that is very hard to believe. Poverty is known to be the leading cause of poor educational results in Manitoba, and yet this bill makes almost no mention of poverty or its impacts on students. Too many Manitoban kids just don’t have the supports and tools they need to be successful in school, and this bill does absolutely nothing to help them succeed.
If this bill is about anything, it’s about centralizing power and defunding education in Manitoba. For this reason, my colleagues and I used our legislative powers to ensure that Bill 64 will be delayed until the fall so that Manitoban educators and families can have time to learn about the bill and challenge the Pallister government.
If you would like to speak at the public committee on this bill in the fall, please call 204-945-3636 to register, and visit the Manitoba Legislative Assembly website to learn more. If you need help in navigating this process, please reach out to my office.
Should you have any questions or comments about anything I’ve shared, or if you would like further details about Bill 64 and its potential impacts on our community, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We can be reached by phone at 204-792-8779, or by email at email@example.com