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VANCOUVER – Fund education properly, and protect physical assets in public education and post-secondary education. These are key messages that CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill will bring to provincial politicians who begin their consultation on B.C.’s 2008 budget this week.

O’Neill says a September province-wide Ipsos Reid poll, sponsored by CUPE, finds that the public is very concerned – and ready to commit funds to fix education problems.

On public school funding, 87 per cent support the provincial government increasing funding for public education in B.C., with 68 per cent strongly supporting an increase.

The public obviously gets it. Inadequate government funding, especially with declining enrolment, has meant critical services, such as hours for special education assistants, aren’t funded. And we have seen the closure and loss of schools in the K-12 system,” says O’Neill.

We find a lot of support for protecting and maintaining our public assets – the grounds, buildings and services,” says O’Neill. In the K-12 area, 79 per cent want a special government funding initiative to help keep public schools open, with close to 50 per cent of those saying it is a high priority.

O’Neill says that CUPE members in colleges and universities have flagged problems with the upkeep of existing buildings, grounds and services. “CUPE workers take care of the services, buildings and grounds that allow education to happen. We know that there is a huge public investment that is not being properly protected.”

Ipsos finds high support for adequately maintaining and protecting buildings, grounds and recreational facilities at colleges and universities. When asked how much of a priority governments should place on providing funds to ensure that these public assets are maintained and protected for the future, fully 90 per cent would make it a priority, with 47 per cent giving it a high priority.

O’Neill will be making a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services on Friday, September 21.

Backgrounder on CUPE’s poll

Contact: Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president, c: 604-340-6768
  Roseanne Moran, CUPE Communications, c: 778-835-7537