To the Editor:
It is time for the Liberal Government of British Columbia to put the funds back into public services. Premier Clark would have you believe that they have increased funding in healthcare and education but in reality, any “increase” in funding has not kept pace with the increased cost of doing business and that means we are trying to do more with less. As a result, we are all paying more out of our own pockets to maintain services and where this is not possible, service levels are declining. It is clear to me that the Liberals have an agenda of devaluing and minimizing the role of what we in B.C. and the rest of Canada, have grown to expect from our public services.
Just take a close look at what teachers are facing during this round of bargaining. First of all, we are told that there are zero funds available for improvements to salary or benefits. Then, the money offered to improve working and learning conditions was a mere fraction over three years of what is needed yearly. This is in the face of last spring’s Supreme Court ruling that said that the stripping of these very same provisions 10 years ago was unconstitutional. At the same time BCPSEA (the government’s bargaining agent) has tabled proposals that would fully gut our Collective Agreement and further weaken workers’ rights. Tell me Premier Clark… how is this putting families first?
Why is it that other jurisdictions from across Canada are able to more fully fund public education? They are facing the very same difficult economic circumstances. If it is true that the B.C. government does not have the funds to restore proper working/learning conditions to B.C classrooms or to provide improvements to our collective agreement, then they have been mismanaging the economy. The reason we are in this situation is directly a result of choices made by the Liberal government of B.C. They are the ones who cut corporate taxes to the lowest level in North America. They are the ones who chose to spend 100’s of millions of dollars on renovating BC Place. They are the one’s responsible for what has become the HST fiasco.
As I see it, it is the role of government to manage its finances in such a way that there is enough capital to fully fund and provide the services that Canadians have come to expect. They didn’t have the funds when the economy was booming. Now they blame the world economy. They’ve had 10 years to prove that their economic policy would lead to better times for British Columbians. They have failed. It is time for the Liberal government to change course and make reinvestment in the public sector a priority. If they are unwilling to do so, they should step aside, call an election and make room for a government that can.
Sincerely,Ron Rachinski,President, South Okanagan Teachers’ Association