WINNIPEG – CUPE expressed concern for the potential changes coming to Manitoba’s K-12 education system. CUPE fears the government is considering radical changes that have the potential to throw the education system into chaos, contemplating simultaneously eliminating elected school trustees, merging or eliminating school divisions and considering changes to the funding model for education in Manitoba.

“Minister Goertzen is already musing about completely eliminating local democratic control of our education system and centralizing the entire education system,” said Gord Delbridge President of CUPE Manitoba, “we don’t think that’s good for students, our communities, nor the front-line workers who dedicate themselves to ensuring safe and supportive learning environments.”

Reports that Minister Goertzen wouldn’t take an elimination of school boards off the table raise particular concerns for CUPE who represent education members across Manitoba.

“Local control over education is the backbone of the K-12 system in Manitoba,” said Delbridge, “the idea that some Conservative appointee’s in a downtown boardroom know better than community leaders elected by their neighborhoods is preposterous.”

CUPE also noted that while the government did promise to consult with a wide variety of stakeholders, they find the lack of commitment to consult with education support staff in the public mandate message to be insulting.

“We won’t let Education Assistants and other education support workers be left out of this review,” said Delbridge, “as a strong voice for education workers, we will ensure that our members, and in fact all education support workers, will have their voices heard.”

CUPE represents approximately 6,000 education workers in 35 school boards across Manitoba.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 665,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 26,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

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For information, contact: Dale Edmunds, CUPE Communications at (204) 915-7429