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 made the announcement on Wednesday.

“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,” says 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, the minister says.

Bill 21, the Public Schools Amendment Act, would ensure that children living with a responsible adult can 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 schools.

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.

Altomare says that the  Manitoba government will continue to work with school divisions to remove barriers to students attending school.