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Moving away from public funding of our public education institutions means moving away from democracy, the Canadian Union of Public Employees warned the BC governments Select Standing Committee on Education today.

CUPEs brief to the committee focuses on the fact that democratic access to a post-secondary education can only be assured if programs are truly available and accessible to all students, no matter their financial means. The union is recommending that tuition fees be reduced and eventually eliminated.

Rather than limiting peoples options through funding cutbacks or tuition hikes, we need to make education more easily accessible for students, CUPE BC President Barry ONeill commented.

ONeill noted that with the reduced training wage the Liberals are bringing in, students will have a harder time earning money for tuition fees.

The union is also urging the Liberal government to make a commitment to full public participation and control of our post-secondary schools by holding democratic elections for the Governance Boards.

The unions presentation also cites examples of recent failures in public private partnerships that involved the construction of lease back schools in other provinces. Nova Scotia has halted their program after estimating cost over-runs by private contractors had cost taxpayers more than $32-million.

Public funding, public institutions, and public workers are key to delivering high quality education to British Columbians, ONeill emphasized.

CUPE represents more than 10,000 members working at post-secondary institutions, including colleges and universities, in BC. Union members include clerical and administrative staff, grounds and maintenance staff, teaching and research assistants and sessional lecturers.

President ONeill is in Parksville this week talking to union activists about the impact of budget cuts and new legislation being enacted by the Liberal government.

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Media, please contact Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President at 604-916-8444

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