By Murray Rankin
MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head
It seems August slips away more quickly every year, and as September begins, so does a new school year for the students and families in our community. We’re lucky to have schools for every stage in our community, from preschool through to post-secondary, and I know this is an exciting time for students of all ages.
For many families, the impact of global inflation means that the back-to-school season is particularly onerous this year. That’s why our government recently announced that beginning Sept. 1, more families will be able to save on childcare for eligible half-day preschool and before-and-after school care programs, thanks to the expansion of our Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. This means thousands of families with younger children will be saving up to $145 per child every month, so they have one less cost to think about, and more money in their pockets every month.
For school-aged kids, healthy breakfasts and lunches are key to their success at school, but we know not every child has access to affordable, nutritious meals every day. In response, our government launched the Feeding Futures initiative, which provides reliable funding to school districts to set up or expand food programs for their students.
Post-secondary students are also experiencing added financial pressures. As a former professor at UVic, I hear about this regularly from students and from former colleagues. As a part of our government’s StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, we’re supporting students to get the education and training they need to join the workforce, by expanding graduate scholarship funding across B.C., including the $840,000 towards UVic’s graduate scholarships that was just announced.
As students go through our education system, we’re continually working to make sure they get the best knowledge they need. This is the first year that students in Grade 12 have a graduation requirement to complete Indigenous-focused coursework, which will ensure they have a deeper understanding of Indigenous cultures, perspectives, and histories when they graduate. This is another step we’re taking towards reconciliation at all levels, so young people have more of the tools they need to be active participants in reconciliation.
As a new school year begins, I want to thank educators and staff for their dedication and commitment. And, wherever you are on your learning journey, happy back to school!
Murray Rankin is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.