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CUPE Union gives Alberta budget thumbs down

EDMONTON At the same time that the provincial government has increased funding for private schools, the Conservative government continues to allow school buildings to crumble.

That was the verdict of DArcy Lanovaz, President of CUPE Alberta on the provincial budget released today. CUPE Alberta represents about 5,000 employees of K-12 schools in the province.

Lanovaz says CUPE members who clean and maintain schools are warning that they can no longer keep schools clean and safe based upon current funding levels.

The Calgary Public school division alone has $400 million backlog in facility maintenance work, said Lanovaz. In Edmonton Public, there are actually fewer people cleaning and maintaining schools today then there were in 1993.

Lanovaz said a $200 million increase for infrastructure, not all of which goes to schools, wasnt enough.

Lanovaz, whose union represents 1,000 ambulance workers, also criticized the budget for its lack of commitment to ambulance service. The governments own figures say that ambulance service in Alberta costs over $120 million, yet they only transferred $55 million to municipalities to run them.

Lanovaz also criticized the government for not doing enough for children.

I was hoping this government would use the budget as a chance to finally accept the Learning Commission recommendations on junior and full day kindergarten, said Lanovaz. Their continued refusal to do so, along with their position against a national child care program, means they have again

failed parents and children.

The CUPE President was supportive of increase to AISH payments, although he called it way too little, and way too late.