confused premier stelmach blames teachers for lay-offs.

Only months before he rides into his political sunset, a confused Premier Ed Stelmach blamed the Alberta Teachers’ Association for the school board budget shortfalls that may lead to the lay-off of over 1,000 teachers. Reacting to a protest that attracted hundreds of parents to the Legislature last weekend, Premier Stelmach told reporters that his government was not to blame for the budget shortfall.

The ATA quickly replied on Twitter:

“The Premier’s statement today is incorrect. Government pulled out of talks with ATA and school boards when the Premier resigned.”

This is also the reason given Education Minister Dave Hancock when talks between the government, teachers, and school boards were halted when the Premier announced his resignation in January 2011.

In today’s Edmonton Journal, Minister Hancock restated his earlier comments, putting him at odds with Premier Stelmach’s statements:

“I think the premier may have characterized this a little too bluntly,” Hancock said. “The ATA was there and was prepared to talk.”

As word of the teacher lay-offs broke last week, Premier Stelmach traveled across the province announcing the construction of $550 million in new school construction and renovations. This left many Albertans puzzled about how the Premier could be making these large capital spending announcements while being unwilling to step in to stop the lay-off of teachers who would teach in those new classrooms.

21 thoughts on “confused premier stelmach blames teachers for lay-offs.

  1. Fran Irwin, Medicind Hat

    Dave – I’ve seen the number of $100 Million would be what it would take to stop the layoffs of 1000 Alberta Teachers – do you think the Premier will come up with the cash to be the “late saviour” as this PC government has done so many times in Education? The other startling number is the expected INCREASE of K-12 enrollment next year of 6,00) NEW STUDENTS!

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  2. Red Dawn

    The government abruptly and inexplicably walked away from negotiations. The ATA had a whole range of options they were prepared to discuss. The Tories think they can just reach into their dirty trick playbook and blame the teachers, like they have for 30 years. Play up to their education challenged and teacher hating base, and away they go. But this time the Cons are lying so obviously, and the layoffs are so blatantly wrong, some voters will be moved, I hope.
    Education workers and parents with school age children should take note at least. If these two groups are still voting Con, they are enablers of an abusive relationship and should seek counselling!

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  3. Jane

    Finally someone stands up to the tyrannical teachers unions that are bankrupting our province and our education system. Time for teachers to take a pay cut – too bad only the Wildrose will offer this.

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  4. evilscientist

    @Jane:

    The raise the teachers are to receive is based solely on the average raise given to every other Albertan. If you don’t want the teachers to get a raise, you’d better get out there and convince the private sector to stop handing out raises. That will force the wage index down and eliminate teacher (and MLA) raises. I’m sure you’ll be at the front of the line to make sure this happens by not taking any raises yourself.

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  5. Red Dawn

    Again, it is time to stop this fiction about good Cons and bad Cons. Dave Hancock and his ilk will pretend Stelmach is speaking out of turn, when it is standing government policy to promote the nasty and false notion that we should blame teachers. Vote them out. The Cons have infiltrated the administration of schools big time, as well. At least Edmonton Public is standing up to them!

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  6. Dale C

    Its time that stelmach left… or stayed longer, and more people will realize how this pack of lies.. blame labour for the governments problems… is the big lie.. it looks like wildrose and their loony toon supporters will continue this tradition. Jane I feel free to take a pay cut to help balance the budget… and see how it feels… when your mortgage comes due..

    Reply
  7. Jonathan

    @ Jane

    It’s awesome how NO amount of oil & gas subsidy or full pages ads in the Washington Post could ever contribute to the “bankrupting” of our province.

    Nor could the PC’s private junket train at the Vancouver Olympics.

    I guess it’s all down to teachers, probably social workers, and impoversihed kids. Damn them!

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  8. Rob H.

    Too little, too late from the Premier. This so-called “conservative” government folded like a cheap suit when they negotiated the funding of the pension liability and gave into teachers demands in 2007.

    Now – even worse – Dave Hancock seems to seek to curry favor with the fat and bloated ATA by suggesting that it is the GOVERNMENT’S fault that talks broke down.

    Yes – perhaps talks broke down – but the suggestion that teachers were at the table offering to forego wage increases flies in the face of the reality that after getting a hefty 4.85% increase in 2009, they took the government back to court to arbitrate for an increase to 5.99% in the midst of massive layoffs and increases in unemployment.

    Alberta has, over the last decade, spent more on education than any other Province in Canada, and in fact, any jurisdiction in North America – and yet, we still have legitimate concerns regarding class size and conditions.

    Why?

    Becuase like Mr. Creosote of Monty Python fame, even as bloated and fat as they are, there is always a demand from our ATA for “one more wafter thin mint.”

    While teachers talk about “the big lie”, in fact, do the research. Compare Alberta teacher salaries to other jurisictions all over North America and then think about it for a moment. If the Alberta government spends more than any other jurisdiction on education, and if we still don’t have enough teachers and support for program expenses.. where is that money going? Three guesses and the first two don’t count.

    The ATA doesn’t give a good god damn about “the children” other than to use them as leverage for ever increasing wages.

    While I’m sure most posters here will pillory me, the writing is on the wall my friends, and the days of handing the keys to the henhouse to the fox are over.

    Reply
  9. GreatWallsofFire

    EvilScientist:

    “The raise the teachers are to receive is based solely on the average raise given to every other Albertan.”

    “I’m sure you’ll be at the front of the line to make sure this happens by not taking any raises yourself.”

    News to me, and I suspect thousands of my fellow Albertans, that “every other Albertan” got a recent raise. In fact, my compensation has dropped in recent years, not that I’m complaining when a considerable number of my family and friends have lost their jobs. Tell me, other than for egregious breaches of conduct rules and lay-offs, do teachers ever lose their jobs?

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  10. Red Dawn

    Like I said, Stelmach was just exercising the Con time honored tradition of teacher baiting,which inflames their teacher-hating and educationally challenged voter base. Couple of good examples right here on this comment page.The only reason the rest of the tories are not 110% behind Stelmach on this is because there is a leadership race on. Meanwhile, just watch the hatred spew forth,completely untethered from reality.

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  11. nick parker

    Evilscientist: the MLAs were front and centre in refusing any cost of living increases this year. So should these overpaid teachers!

    Reply
  12. Rob H.

    Red Dawn: “Like I said, Stelmach was just exercising the Con time honored tradition of teacher baiting,which inflames their teacher-hating and educationally challenged voter base. Couple of good examples right here on this comment page.”

    Well then take my challenge RD.

    If you’re going to allege that criticism of the actions of the ATA are “untethered from reality”, then show me I’m wrong.. “in reality” if you will.

    Show us that our teachers aren’t consistently the highest, or amongst the highest paid educators in North America.

    SHow us that our government hasn’t consistently been amongs the highest spenders, per capita, on education in Canada.

    Show us that when the ATA was given a 4.85% raise in 2009 they didn’t go to arbitration to argue that wasn’t enough.

    **toe tapping**

    **crickets chirping**

    Reply
  13. Jonathan

    @ Rob

    Why exactly was there a dispute, and why did the arbitrator rule in favour of the teachers?

    and…..

    show us that the government is so strapped for cash that they’ve stopped subsidizing horse racing.

    Reply
  14. Joe Albertan

    From Danielle Smith’s latest spam letter that my wife got, she’s the one hurting for cash. With such extremist policies and terrible leadership, how could we be surprised?

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  15. Rob H.

    @Jonathan

    No one is arguing that the government didn’t screw up in tying raises to StatsCan COLA rates without reference to the formula to calcuate those rates.

    The point is that, in accordance with THEN StatsCan formulas, the ATA was entitled to a 4.85% raise.

    The ATA, correctly at law, argued that they were entitled to more and succeeded in arbitration.

    The real question, however, is that at a time where many people were dealing with cutbacks and layoffs, the ATA took that matter to arbitration – which they did not have to do.

    And in doing that – their message, clearly, was “we are going to get whatever we can get.”

    And when the government basically said, “Fine, you win, we’ll honor the arbitration, but now, the cupboard is bare”, the ATA still has the cajones to complain that they are hard done by when school boards are forced into hiring freezes and layoffs.

    And, yet, even as spoiled and fat as they are, even now we get, “.. show us that the government is so strapped for cash that they’ve stopped subsidizing horse racing.”

    Whatever.

    The tide is turning.

    The ATA is disclosed for what it is.

    Fat. Spoiled. And devoid of real empathy or concern for the taxpayers who pay their salaries, or the children who, as a so-called “profession”, they are allegedly supposed to care about.

    Reply
  16. Erin Hickman

    I am always just astonished (I don’t know why – I was born and raised in Alberta) that there are people out there who have no problem with bashing a whole group of people simply based on their choice of profession; who have the notion that we should all “know our place” and really have no right to negotiate improvements to our working conditions and wages. I am sorry if you did not get a raise last year – I believe that everyone should at least be getting a cost of living increase. But the fact remains that if there were no unions or associations looking out for the rights of workers, you folks would also be worse off. The ATA has a duty to look after their members; they also fund training and promote best practices in education that have had positive impact on what’s happening in classes. They conduct research and establish partnerships around the world. We have a first class education system in Alberta, as evidenced by our students’ outstanding performance on international tests. We live in the wealthiest province in Alberta. Why should we not be the highest paid? Why should this government not live up to the commitments it makes?

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  17. GreatWallsofFire

    Jonathon wrote:

    “I’m confused, I think you’re implying the teachers agreed to a bad deal.

    Here’s a sample of how it’s going over:”

    There are many ways to gauge how ATA and other teacher union actions are “going over” with the general public. Letters to the editor – written by teachers and selected for publication by their sycophants on the editorial board of the Journal – is not a very accurate one.

    Erin Hickman wrote:

    “…there are people out there who have no problem with bashing a whole group of people simply based on their choice of profession; who have the notion that we should all “know our place”

    If you seriously think the “bashing” of the ATA is “simply based on anyone’s “choice of profession”, I hope you’re not a member, because, based on that kind of thoughtful reflection, I wouldn’t want you teaching my kids.

    The ATA gets “bashed” for the same reason all public sector unions get “bashed” – because their members are increasingly among the most privileged members of our society – in terms of pay, benefits, tenure, etc etc – yet it’s never enough. The fact the likes of the ATA have put several jurisdictions on the brink of bankruptcy appears utterly irrelevant to them – after all, they’re entitled to their entitlements.

    Reply
  18. atuque41

    Great Walls of Fire:

    “Letters to the editor – written by teachers and selected for publication by their sycophants on the editorial board of the Journal – is not a very accurate one.”

    This is not an example of an accurate statement.

    “The fact the likes of the ATA have put several jurisdictions on the brink of bankruptcy appears utterly irrelevant to them – after all, they’re entitled to their entitlements.”

    Which divisions might these be?

    Bringing Wisconsin a little closer to Alberta troll by troll.

    Reply

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