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Alberta providing targeted financial resources for displaced Ukrainians, Education Minister says

Sep 4, 2023 | News, Canada, Featured

Demetrios Nicolaides

Marco Levytsky
NP-UN Western Bureau Chief

The Alberta government has provided some targeted financial resources to school divisions, particularly for the purpose of supporting Ukrainian students, says Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides.

“In the last school year alone, we invested over $15 million in new funding to help ensure that Ukrainian students could access programming right here in our province and the funding, along with government investments more generally to address enrollment growth and bring other supports to the classroom, will help address these challenges,” he said during a roundtable with multicultural media held online, August 2.

He was responding to a question from New Pathway – Ukrainian News which stated:

”Since March 2022, almost 40,000 Ukrainian newcomers have arrived in in Alberta.

“We have no Ukrainian bilingual classes in Calgary, the largest settlements for newcomers, Red Deer, St. Albert, Lethbridge, and other centres who have had significant number of newcomers settling in them. As well, existing programs in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, and Vegreville are stretched to the limit.

“There is also a need for more support for educational resources. Teacher assistants for schools, and working with supporting ESL and FSL students. Programming costs for these students, mental support, peer support, etc.

“How are these additional and unforeseen for the Alberta educational system challenges being met? Which mechanisms are in place already and which are being planned and or developed?
“You made a very good point, and it’s bang on,” continued Nicolaides.

“We need to make sure we have more educational assistants and other support staff in our schools and in the last budget that was passed this spring, it included new funding specifically for the purpose of hiring new educational… more educational assistant teachers and other support staff.

“We estimate that over the next few years we hope to be able to bring on 3,000 or close to 3,000, I should say additional support staff in our schools just generally to be able to support some of the classroom issues and concerns that exist.

“So, we are providing that very specific and targeted funding of $15 million that I mentioned. And we’ll continue to do that. And if there’s, you know, more that the government can do to help support Ukrainian students and displaced Ukrainians, we will absolutely be very interested in looking at that. I’ve met in the past regularly with the Ukrainian Congress and other organizations to discuss some of the priorities of post-secondary students and families, and I’m happy to continue to meet with them in my new role as Minister of Education, to see what we can do to support displaced Ukrainian families and students,” he added.

Nikolaides also noted that support for Displaced Ukrainians is a government-wide responsibility.

“I think we all have a responsibility within the Government of Alberta to make sure that we’re all doing everything that we can to support displaced Ukrainians and help them feel at home right here in Alberta. Of course, Alberta’s home to thousands and thousands of Ukrainians and due to, of course, the recent events and the conflict, if there’s more that we can do to help them find a home here, we are absolutely committed to that. And I know a variety of different ministries and government divisions and departments over the last few years have taken steps to provide more support with our schools in particular,” he said.

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