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VICTORIA The 2004 provincial budget is legally balanced but morally bankrupt, says CUPE BC.

Its another Liberal budget balanced on the backs of the young, the old, the poor and the helpless, CUPE BC president Barry ONeill said. Our members work in those sectors of our society so it is also balanced on their backs.

Finance Minister Gary Collins painted a rosy picture of his budget as a major step towards a better future. But the reality is bleak indeed.

The money he intends to use for these questionable increases is coming from the past three years of public sector robbery, ONeill said.

They are cutting $100 million out of regional health care to pay for the $28 million increase that Collins announced in his budget speech. Other increased spending is being ripped from the reduced salaries of privatized health care workers.

In K-12 education, real funding per student has steadily decreased over the past decade, after paying for electricity, salary and inflation increases. It is coming from school closures, staff cuts and the forced tampering with school instruction days. Funding for private education is rising at 5 per cent a year, while funding for public education is increasing only 1.8 per cent this year.

The Liberals have axed the $30 million post-secondary student grant program.

Students, already facing rising tuition fees, will be forced to take out loans.

In community social services, there will be $63 million cut from programs aimed at children at risk. Welfare services will be slashed by $106 million.

If this is a turning point in history, as Collins says, it is a dismal turning point towards no future at all for public sector working families and the communities they serve.


Ron Verzuh, CUPE Communications, 604-828-7668.