When I was working for the Official Opposition I was often upset by the provincial government's unwillingness or inability to truly recognize the value of special needs support staff in the public education system. My friend Audrey is one of these absolutely vital (and tragically underpaid) workers. She has an extremely difficult job, and without her and others like her the educational opportunities, quality of life and dignity of children with special needs is drastically curtailed.
Special needs staff are currently on strike. They're asking for a 1.5 percent increase; Edmonton Catholic Schools responded with a counter-offer of $200 as a lump sum payment. Steve's blog has more background.
I've known Audrey for two decades. She's one of the kindest people I know; she adores kids and devotes herself to meeting their needs. Audrey and workers like her make it possible for Alberta's children with special needs to do more achieve more and enjoy their lives more. She provides them with love and hope, and frankly I think that's pretty priceless. I'd be happy to pay higher taxes if the provincial government would pay these workers what they deserve and fund special needs programs to give these special children the best possible chance of living healthier, happier lives.
Alberta is the richest province in the richest country in the world. Surely we can adjust our priorities to put more emphasis on our children and those who care for them?