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WHITEHORSE – The number of issues and concerns related to Yukon’s education system have continued to pile up over the summer. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of leadership from the Minister of Education, or any member of Cabinet for that matter, as these issues come to a head on the eve of back-to-school.
This summer, concerns have been raised publicly by the President of the Yukon Association of Educational Professionals, teachers, and from school councils and communities.
The teacher shortage and a lack of planning by the Liberal government has led to a number of job vacancies in schools throughout the territory as the new school year begins and reports of principals left without support to recruit staff members. To fill the gaps, there are reports of patchwork solutions of staff being required to take on positions outside their specialty. It seems these concerns are unfortunately becoming a reality, and is another indication that this Liberal government has simply checked out.
Critical staffing shortages appear to be a major issue across the North, but the lack of leadership and action from this Liberal government has been an ongoing concern in the Yukon. In a letter to the Minister of Education dated January 4, 2022, the Yukon Association of Education Professionals, Autism Yukon, LDAY Centre for Learning, and the Association of Yukon School Councils Boards and Committees said no substantive action on Inclusive and Special Education had been taken in the last two years. The letter also said that the current approach seems to be at the expense of addressing the current well-documented needs of many students in the system.
Due to poor planning and coordination, students in Dawson City will be starting their year a few days later. Upgrades to a portable at Robert Service School – first suggested by the Yukon Party in 2017 – will not completed for the school year to begin on time. In Whitehorse, there are highly visible major infrastructure projects at Elijah Smith Elementary, Hidden Valley Elementary School and Ecole Selkirk Elementary that will not be complete when kids head back to class on Monday.
“We are hearing from those on the ground that the education system in the Yukon has never been in worse shape,” said Education Critic Scott Kent. “For a government that says they are making education a priority, it seems Yukon educators, students and parents are bearing the brunt of the Liberals’ failure to address these concerns over the summer.”