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'Disrespected and demoralized': Survey shows 37% of Alberta teachers may leave in the next five years

More than a third of Alberta teachers would prefer to retire, move, or start a new career rather than work in the province's schools by 2026, according to a new survey that the government is disputing.

"I put my heart and soul into supporting public education, and now it feels like public education is being eroded," educator Sue Bell told CTV News Edmonton.

Bell has been a teacher and principal for 30 years, but recently decided to retire. She is fed up with the government, and believes many of her colleagues agree.

"We have lots of healthcare workers who are leaving this province because they're not feeling supported, and I think the same thing is going to happen to the education system. I think the education minister has her head in the sand," she said.

The survey, conducted by the Alberta Teachers Association in November, polled 179 people and found that 31 per cent of teachers either don't want to be teaching in the same position next year, or are unsure about it.

Over the next five years, 16 per cent said they will retire, 14 per cent said they'll leave the profession altogether, and seven per cent said they plan to move and teach in another province. A total of 1,248 people responded to that part of the poll.

"Interesting point about the 14 per cent is that that's double from what we saw in April, and we need to take note of that. We're talking about a huge exodus, potentially," said ATA President Jason Schilling.

"They're concerned about budget cuts, class sizes and other elements of the protocols that aren't being met. They just feel, in a sense, disrespected and demoralized by this government."


A spokesperson for Minister Adriana LaGrange declined an interview request but sent a statement.

“Alberta’s government recognizes how challenging the past two years have been. We are grateful to all parents, students, teachers and education partners for their continued flexibility and dedication during the pandemic," wrote press secretary Katherine Stavropoulos.

She also took issue with how the ATA conducted its survey.

"This is a pulse survey of a self-identified group of teachers who have indicated they will participate in surveys from the union. This survey does not represent a random sample of teachers and raises questions regarding the accuracy of its findings," Stavropoulos wrote.

The NDP's education critic agreed with the ATA's concerns.

"The UCP actually underspent the education budget by $600 million. Think of what could have been done to promote learning and to increase safety with that money," said MLA Sarah Hoffman.

She also accused the government of having a "lack of respect for teachers and the work that they do."

"We know that it has impacted their well being, 92 percent report exhaustion, 88 per cent report high levels of stress and 51 percent report they're anxious more than half of the days of the week," Hoffman said.

Both Bell and Schilling are asking the province to give teachers more support and to invest more money into classrooms.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon Top Stories


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