Alberta Liberals release NDP internal emails detailing Bill 1 'confusion'
The email chain was initiated by a parent who contacted the government asking they attend a CBE and Calgary Transit information session
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The Alberta Liberal Party has released internal government emails they claim show that the NDP was in damage control mode over school transportation concerns in Calgary.
Numerous Calgary parents have come forward with stories about challenges in relations to busing changes that critics say have been implemented due to the Alberta NDP's Bill 1.
In a prepared statement, Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann, representing Calgary Mountain-View said it’s troubling to see the government call the serious concerns of parents in Calgary ‘noise and confusion.’
“The NDP were clearly aware of problems with the implementation of Bill 1 but chose spin over real action,” Swann said.
According to the news release from the party, the internal NDP email exchange began when a parent asked the government to attend an information session with the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Transit Services.
The parent shared their personal story of the logistical challenges and safety concerns they had around their young child using public transit for school, as well as the financial impact the transportation changes could have on struggling families.
"Personally I take the bus-train to get to work at that time and find myself having to be fairly assertive to get on and off the train…this will be daunting for our 10/11-year-olds; plus the added challenge of having to navigate transfers and with potentially tight switch times," wrote the parent.
In closing their email, the parent tells the government to “do the right thing for our children.”
In the exchange, the education ministry admits the situation is a challenge but tells their constituency offices to “hold still on communication” until their messaging strategy has been completed.
"Our chief and myself will be briefing your MLAs TOMORROW MAY 31 on updated messaging and our strategy going forward in relations to Bill 1, bell times and yellow bus to Calgary Transit," reads one email from Joshua Buck, Ministerial Assistant Minister of the Education. "If you could all just hold still on communicating until tomorrow we would appreciate it and I will make sure you all have the latest notes after our meeting tomorrow."
Swann said Calgary MLAs recognize the problem is widespread and specifically hurts students in language schools.
“But the problem remains. There’s been no indication of help for the CBE to solve these problems that the government created," he said.
Lindsay Harvey, media liaison for Alberta Education said they heard confusion and concerns from parents regarding the CBE's decision to make changes to bus routes and bell start times.
"MLAs were inquiring with the Minister’s office about getting clear information for their constituents – that is what the email sent was in response to," she said.
Harvey said the government has provided an additional $18 million to the CBE to fully cover the cost of reducing fees for families, and education minister David Eggen shares the concerns expressed by parents– which is why an operational review of the board's finances is currently underway.
Findings from the review are expected to be released in September.
A full, redacted copy of the exchange is available to view here: