|Worthy environmental policy will be compromised by increased privatization, says CUPE
BURNABY— Continuing its focus on ‘green issues’ that began with last year’s budget, the BC Liberal government in the Speech from the Throne today unveiled an ambitious set of environmental initiatives while obscuring the province’s increased reliance on public-private partnerships, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said in response.
“We applaud the government’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, make use of renewable energy resources and encourage more ‘power smart’ behaviour among the general public,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.
“What concerns us is how it is pursuing these worthy goals. For example, we hope that the move toward ‘fast-tracking’ so-called ‘green developments’ is not simply a sneaky way of getting P3s approved by Partnerships BC.”
O’Neill also raised concerns about proposed changes in post-secondary education.
“An expansion in the public university system and clarification of the purpose of post-secondary institutions should be done with proper funding and in consultation with the communities and the students, staff and faculty in those institutions,” said O’Neill.
“Let’s make sure that the post-secondary institutions we create meet the real needs of communities, and are not just quick political fixes in response to lobbying campaigns or marketing needs.”
O’Neill added that significant new resources are required on the funding front, with public colleges, university colleges and universities already seeing funding shortfalls—and, in some cases, serious infrastructure deficits.
Finally, O’Neill offered qualified praise for new initiatives for children, including StrongStart.
“While we are pleased that government continues to put a priority on this,” he said, “we await the details of a proposed study of the feasibility of full-day kindergarten for children from three to five years of age. The government should integrate these types of programs into the K-12 system, making use of free space that currently exists in school districts, and making best use of the resources of the public education system.”
Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president: (604) 340-6768
Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132