By Ruth Davenport - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - The leader of the provincial PC party says if elected, his government will introduce a $200 tax credit to help parents and teachers cover the cost of school supplies.
© Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper
PC party leader Jamie Baillie checks out Robyn Black's grade five school supplies after an announcement in Halifax on Tuesday.
Jamie Baillie made the announcement Tuesday morning, citing the BMO Back to School survey that suggests parents in Atlantic Canada spend an average of $450 per student getting kids ready to go back to school.
“It is unacceptable to me and to the PC party that the cost of going to school become a barrier to a good education,” he said.
The credit will cost an estimated $3.9 million annually.
“3.9 million is, in my view, an important and modest investment on the part of the taxpayers in the future of education of our children,” said Baillie.
Theresa Orser, a parent of two and president of the Westmount Elementary Home and School Association, said she’s spent about $600 this year on the supplies required by the school for her two kids.
“In addition to being a longer list of supplies, there are more details on that list, being very specific about colours for binders and brands for pencils and pens,” said Orser, whose girls are going into grades 4 and 7.
Orser said she shops around and reuses as much material as possible, but said the list is so long, the dollars add up pretty quickly.
She said she questions some of the requirements, especially because there’s sometimes material left over at the end of the year.
“Twenty-four hundred sheets of loose leaf, 10 months, a girl in grade 4 and grade 7, that’s a lot of writing. Especially in the age of computers,” she said.
Baillie said he’d work with school boards to reduce the supply lists sent out to parents.
“We do intend to lift the budgets of the school boards out of the annual budget process… which makes it impossible for school boards to plan ahead,” he said. “They aren’t able to properly plan for a well-equipped classroom and place, therefore, a greater burden on families.”
Education Minister Ramona Jennex said at a separate event that the tax credit would be a “worthwhile expenditure.”
“No one has any monopoly over a good idea and so definitely, we can look at that idea,” she said.