ATA News

Highlights from the legislature—April 2, 2024

Government and opposition debate education issues

Photo of the Alberta legislature

Alberta’s 31st legislature resumed for the spring sitting on Feb. 28. Here is a summary of the education-related discussions that took place in question period from Feb. 28 to March 21.

Transgender youth policy

Feb. 28 – Rachel Notley (NDP – Edmonton-Strathcona) criticized Premier Danielle Smith for allegedly marginalizing and discriminating against transgendered Albertans under the age of 18. She accused the government of spreading misinformation and extremist views, which she believes are hurting kids and families. In response, Smith defended the policy, emphasizing the importance of parental support and stating that the policy allows for hormone therapies to commence at age 16 with proper medical oversight. Notley countered with statistics about homelessness among gender-diverse youth and accused the policy of promoting state-sanctioned bullying. 

Feb. 29 – Lizette Tejada (NDP – MLA for Calgary-Klein) expressed worries about the premier’s ties to groups like Take Back Alberta and individuals like Tucker Carlson. She questioned the premier’s consultation process and suggested that her actions are putting trans kids and their families at risk. UCP MLA Joseph Schow defended the premier, dismissing the relevance of discussing Tucker Carlson and emphasized the importance of sharing Alberta’s story. He refuted any insinuations about party politics and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to supporting all children in Alberta.

School class sizes

March 12 – Amanda Chapman (NDP – Calgary-Beddington) criticized the education minister’s visit to W.H. Croxford high school in Airdrie, pointing out the overcrowding issue and the need for more high school spaces. The minister defended the government’s actions, highlighting funding allocations for additional students and accusing the NDP of wanting to defund charter and private schools. Chapman continued to press the minister on the urgency of addressing overcrowding in Airdrie schools. The minister responded by citing funding for new school projects in Airdrie and accusing the NDP of wanting to defund independent schools. 

LGBTQ2S+ student supports

March 11 – Lizette Tejada (NDP – MLA for Calgary-Klein), expressed concern over reported directives in the Red Deer Catholic regional school system. These directives allegedly instructed teachers to remove Pride materials, refer to students only by their legal names and report any disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity by students to administrators. Tejada questioned if the minister of education was aware of and supported these directives. Nicolaides responded by stating that his team had contacted the board and found no evidence of new directives. He emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for all students. “No one has been directed to remove Pride material from any of the schools or anything of that nature.” Tejada continued to express concern over the potential impact of the directives, particularly on vulnerable students. She urged the minister to reverse the alleged directive banning safe space stickers. Nicolaides reiterated that no new directives had been issued and that they were still gathering information. ❚