One day after the Alberta government tabled its provincial budget, people in Lethbridge are reacting. Post-secondary schools will be taking a hit to funding grants and local MLAs have opposing views on the United Conservatives’ second budget.
Both post-secondary institutions in Lethbridge are worried about the impact of a significant reduction in base funding.
“We do anticipate there will be a change in the work force for sure,” said Paula Burns, the president of Lethbridge College. “I don’t know how many layoffs because we’re just going into that budget planning cycle right now and we were waiting to get the information from the government.”
Burns says aside from layoffs, the school will have to turn to attrition, retirements and tuition increases.
In a statement, University of Lethbridge President Mike Mahon says, overall, provincial government funding equates to a 6.6 per cent reduction.
As a result, he says there will be increased tuition fees, attrition and regrettably “employee layoffs.”
In terms of elementary school education, Lethbridge West-MLA Shannon Phillips says funding another new school in the city doesn’t look likely.
“The public system alone has put two new school builds in their request to the provincial government and we have received nothing,” Phillips said. “The Catholic school board also has some requests as I understand.
“Look, what this means is that Lethbridge is really being left behind,” she said.
“There’s still a few details yet to come out, the school listing and renovations has not been made public..at least not that I’ve been able to find, so there’s a possibility there. there haven’t been any big capitol projects outside of that,” said Lethbridge East-MLA Nathan Neudorf.
When it comes to municipal funding, Mayor Chris Spearman says the budget is something the city can live with.
“There really was no surprise. It was a budget of austerity,” Spearman said. “It’s one that focuses on job creation and economic diversification, so certainly, we think we’re well positioned to do that in the city of Lethbridge.”
One project that is not included in this budget: the expansion of the Highway 3 bridge over the Oldman River.
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