Alberta NDP vows no exams during cultural, religious holidays, will work with business community to recognize important cultural dates

News Release


CALGARY – An Alberta NDP government will ensure that K-12 and post-secondary exams as well as student counting days are scheduled away from important cultural and religious holidays and will immediately begin consultations with the business community on recognizing important cultural dates as stat holidays.
The announcement made Thursday by several candidates at the Genesis Centre in northeast Calgary contains three critical components.
We will direct Alberta Education and Advanced Education to make sure that exams, Student Count days, and dates mandated by the province are scheduled away from cultural and religious holidays;We will work collaboratively with school divisions to make sure their local calendars also avoid these days;We will begin a consultation with the business community to see what opportunities exist for workers to swap the current statutory holidays for different days.
“In this coming school year, the province mandates school divisions to conduct their September Student Count on September 25, which is also Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar,” said Sarah Hoffman, deputy leader and candidate for Edmonton-Glenora. 
“This is important to know how many students are in each school division but students who observe Yom Kippur and spend the day with their families won’t be counted.”
In the coming years, Eid will also overlap with the September Student Count. In June 2022, Hoffman wrote to UCP Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to urge her to correct this problem, but she never replied.
“An Alberta NDP government, led by Rachel Notley, will fix this problem,” said Jasvir Deol, Alberta NDP candidate for Edmonton-Meadows. “We will direct Alberta Education to make sure that Student Count days, exams, and other important dates mandated by the province are scheduled away from cultural and religious holidays.
“We will work collaboratively with school districts to make sure their local calendars also avoid these days.”
David Eggen, Alberta NDP Advanced Education Critic and candidate for Edmonton-North West, said many post-secondary schools already make arrangements to accommodate students writing exams while observing important religious holidays.
“We want to make that the standard,” Eggen said. “Students observing Eid, for example, should not be required to write a critically important final exam at the same time. That isn’t right, so we’ll fix that.
Gurinder Brar, a local small business owner and the Alberta NDP candidate for Calgary-North East, credited many in the business community for already supporting their employees as they observe important religious holidays.
“We see this as a partnership,” he said. “We will begin consultation with the business community to see what other opportunities exist for workers to swap statutory holidays for different days. Ultimately, employees would work the same number of days but could potentially be granted some flexibility on which days they take off from work to observe important religious occasions.
Omar Yaqub, Servant of Servants with Islamic Family and Social Services, supports the commitments made Thursday.
“Inclusive holidays are an important part of the cross-cultural learning we need to succeed in a global market and for meaningfully advancing student belonging,” Yaqub said. “It’s a sensible solution that’s cost neutral, doesn’t change instructional hours, and gives families new opportunities to celebrate Alberta’s rich tapestry.”
Father of two Dr. Ed Tse also endorsed the announcement. 
“The Lunar New Year is a time for Asian families to come together and celebrate our heritage,” he said. “As a Calgary-born Chinese parent we use the Lunar New Year to ensure that our cultural traditions continue to the next generation. We teach them the importance of respecting their elders, the significance of red envelopes, and the symbolism behind various foods and decorations.
“This Alberta NDP commitment means that as parents, we no longer need to choose between our children’s academics or their cultural experiences.”
Gurlal Dhaliwal, member of Dashmesh Cultural Centre, said “It is great to hear that the Alberta NDP is taking concrete steps toward making the institutions and society of our province more inclusive. 
“Sikh families and students have a fundamental right to practice their religious beliefs and celebrate days like Vaisakhi and Bandi Chor Diwas with their families without worrying about an exam or taking a personal day off. 
“We welcome this announcement.”



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