P.E.I.'s NDP leader says the provincial government has clearly lost sight of its priorities.
Mike Redmond is referring to news that Colonel Gray High School will lose their resident police office at the end of January.
Const. Tim Keizer has been the resident officer at Colonel Gray for the past term as part of a community policing pilot project. Both the City of Charlottetown and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development have stated that there is no funding to keep Keizer at Colonel Gray at this time.
"This is a question of safety, not only for the students but also for the teachers,'' said Redmond. "The minister of Education says the focus is on literacy, numeracy and student achievement, but none of that matters if students cannot feel safe at school."
Education Minister Alan McIsaac admits the program is necessary but indicates that there is no funding for it in the budget.
"I continue to be amazed that there is always adequate funding for large ticket items like roundabouts, junkets, and trips of cabinet ministers," said Redmond, "but when it comes to protecting school staff and students, there is no money available."
According to an NDP news release, one Colonel Gray student told the party that "there is a problem with crime at Colonel Gray. The number of students on drugs or selling drugs is through the roof. This year with Tim there the amount of drugs in the school has dropped considerably. There hasn't been a single fight, and more people are respecting the law and actually going to class instead of skipping to do drugs in the bathroom. I think everyone feels safer with Tim at our school, his presence has done nothing but good and his removal is sad news for many."
Redmond said government has a responsibility to provide a safe working and learning environment in schools and but isn't willing to do so.
"The lack of funding for Const. Keizer's position at Colonel Gray High School indicates a lack of collaboration between the municipal and provincial governments," said Redmond. "Ensuring the safety of our communities should be a priority for both levels of government."
The cost to keep Keizer at Colonel Gray for the rest of the school year would be $30,000, yet McIsaac indicated that despite consulting his cabinet colleges from the Department of Health and the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice, no contribution would be forthcoming from those departments.
"For a government that tells us that safety is a priority, this failure to collaborate, to identify a workable solution is disappointing," says Redmond. "The City of Charlottetown and the provincial government need to come together right now to find funding to keep Constable Tim Keizer in his position at Colonel Gray."