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Viewpoints: Alberta teachers can make a difference in this federal election

September 22, 2015 Heather Smith, President, Canadian Teachers' Federation

I would like to commend the Alberta Teachers’ Association for sharing information about the importance of raising Alberta teachers’ voices in this federal election.

As a nonpartisan federation, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation does not support any one party but rather advocates with all parties regarding issues that are significant to the teachers of Canada. We believe it is important to provide information so that teachers may make well-informed decisions when they head to the polls on Oct. 19.

The federal election is an opportunity for teachers to raise the profile of public education as a national issue and to increase candidate awareness about our proposals to better support students in schools across the country.

Although provinces and territories are responsible for education, we know that federal government programs and policies directly affect the lives of students and teachers. Federal policy decisions relating to funding transfers to the provinces and territories also affect the capacity of many provincial/territorial governments to appropriately fund and administer their health care and education systems.

Teachers told us in a national teacher survey that child and youth mental health and child poverty should be the two priorities for CTF’s advocacy work in this federal election. Teachers understand the government’s response to child and youth mental health and child poverty has a direct impact on the ability of our students to learn and thrive in a supportive and caring learning environment.

Under the banner of our Hear My Voice advocacy initiative, the CTF mounted a national teacher campaign to raise political awareness regarding our proposals for better student access to mental health resources and for a national anti-poverty strategy aimed to alleviate child poverty. Our proposals are sound, reasonable and forward thinking.

In an effort to better inform teachers across Canada, we’ve invited all the major parties to respond to a series of questions related to these two issues. Their responses are published online in the CTF questionnaire Our Questions. Their Replies. on the Hear My Voice campaign site (http://vox

All indications are that the federal election will be a hard-fought, hotly contested, close-run affair—exactly the sort of circumstances under which teacher advocacy efforts are most likely to be effective

That is why I invite you to raise your voice in this federal election campaign:

  • First, find out where political parties stand on our issues by reading their answers to CTF questions on our website.
  • Post any one of our social media shareables on your Facebook page or via Twitter or Instagram. It’s important to raise awareness about child and youth mental health and child poverty and how they impact on our students’ learning.
  • Discover how you can raise your voice in your own riding with our easy-to-read teacher advocacy toolkit, which is also available for download from our campaign site.
  • Place a door hanger (also available online) at your home to alert all election candidates in your riding that, as a teacher, you have questions about their parties’ positions on child and youth mental health and child poverty.
  • Share your classroom stories to help them understand why better mental health supports and a national anti-poverty strategy are critical steps to help all students reach their full potential.

Most important, make sure you and the eligible voters in your family cast a ballot on Oct. 19.

Let’s make Canada’s children and youth a top priority in the next Parliament.

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