The Liberal Opposition is expressing concern over the elimination of 36 School Intervention Worker (SIW) positions in the Anglophone South School District to free up enough funding for the creation of additional Educational Assistant (EA) positions.
“School Intervention Workers play a vital role in our schools, especially as the students continue to be impacted by the turbulent years of learning during a pandemic” says the Official Opposition critic for Education and Early Childhood development, Benoît Bourque. “There is a need for more EA’s and we will always support initiatives to achieve that, but it’s unfortunate that government put the District in the position of having to layoff a number of employees in order hire more EA’s.
While the Higgs Government did not impose this measure on the district, the lack of adequate investments over the years has put a strain on recruitment and retention efforts.
“This surely wasn’t an easy decision for the district to make as it impacts both the livelihood of workers and the well-being of students” says Mr. Bourque. “The Higgs Government has created an environment where districts are put in these difficult situations. New Brunswick already has far too many vacant positions in its education system, how are you going to attract more workers when this is how government acts as an employer?”
With roughly a billion dollars in consecutive surpluses in two years, the Higgs Government has the capacity to increase investments into education.
“Premier Higgs had two huge back-to-back surplus during a pandemic that impacted the students mental health and ability to learn, as well as the teacher’s mental health, ability to teach and overall workload. There was a desperate need for investments, and we saw very little.” says Roger Melanson, Leader of the Official Opposition. “Don’t force districts to eliminate SIW’s to be able to hire more EA’s, just make the necessary investments to keep up with the needs of New Brunswick children by hiring or training more EA’s.