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WHITEHORSE – The 2023-2024 school year is about to begin, and Yukon students and parents will quickly find out if the Liberals sufficiently prepared the school system to ensure a smooth start.
In late May, the Yukon Party Official Opposition provided a number of suggestions to the Liberals to prepare for this school year to avoid the chaos of the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. In response, the Liberals indicated preparations were well underway. However, they only announced on August 4, ‘81 new full-time student support positions over the next three years, subject to legislative approval, and a $1 million investment in student support initiatives’. The new positions would include school wellness counsellors that have been urgently requested at some schools, as well as educational assistants and learning assistance teachers as promised in the Confidence and Supply Agreement for this fall. Forty of those positions were to be created for this school year.
However, the same day as the announcement, the government wrote to the Advisory Committee for Yukon Education regarding the wellness counsellors. The letter said: ‘the department is still working on the job description for this new position’. That does not bode well for having wellness counsellors in Yukon schools this fall.
Last week the Liberals announced that there are 40 existing positions currently under recruitment. Can the Minister provide us with a breakdown of which schools have these vacancies? When it comes to the 40 new positions where will those new staff be deployed and when will all of the positions be filled? One of the challenges at the start of last year was the shortage of substitute teachers in the system.
“Last year, we saw education assistants and learning assistance teachers filling teacher positions to make up for the vacancy shortfall,” said Education Critic Scott Kent. “We hope there is a sufficient number of substitutes available to ensure this does not happen again this year. We are hopeful the Liberals will address these questions at Thursday’s press conference.”