Province Introduces New Legislation that would Remove Barriers to School Attendance

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The Manitoba government has introduced legislation that would lower the age a child is required to attend school and remove barriers to students enrolling in schools in the area where they live, Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Nello Altomare announced today.

“We want to make sure every kid is set up for success and that means making sure they have access to education, particularly in the critical early years,” said Altomare. “We know when kids attend school regularly, they are more likely to succeed, go to college or university, and get a good job that will help them build a good life. That is why we want to make sure they are able to go to school wherever they are living.”

Currently, students must attend the school in the catchment area of their parent or guardian’s home. This can cause challenges for students who have other care arrangements, noted the minister.

Bill 21, the Public Schools Amendment Act, would ensure that children living with a responsible adult are able to attend their neighbourhood school in the school division where they reside, even if there has not been a legal transfer of guardianship. The amendment would also clarify the right of temporary residents to send their children to their neighbourhood public school.

Additionally, the amendment would lower the compulsory school age to six years old from seven years old and the right to attend school to five years old from six years old, bringing Manitoba in line with the rest of Canada.

The Manitoba government will continue to work with school divisions to remove barriers to students attending school, said the minister.