Carbon tax hype draws attention away from funding needs for women, children, students
VICTORIA—The provincial budget’s overwhelming focus on ‘green’ initiatives such as the new carbon tax is drawing attention away from critical funding shortages for K-12 and post-secondary education, community services, childcare, and housing, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said today.
“Our public services are becoming unsustainable. This budget does nothing to retain services for women, children, students and institutions,” said CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock.
“The Campbell government’s solution for homelessness is still emergency shelters. This budget forecasts $100 million for housing over three years, but three quarters of that money is being spent on emergency shelters. Emergency shelters are not housing.”
Hancock noted that the province is committed to capital funding of for-profit childcare spaces, which will only lead to cuts in pay for childcare workers.
“The only money for childcare is coming from the federal government, and it does nothing to address the recruitment and retention problems in child care, because childcare workers don’t get paid enough,” he said.
“In this budget, the government is also predicting no increase in the number of women and children requiring shelter through transition house services, or outreach services up to 2011. That just doesn’t reflect reality.”
Also of concern, he said, is that the amount of money put aside for school boards is not enough.
“The increases will not be enough to pay for salary increases and other costs committed this year, and—particularly in the case of school districts beyond the Lower Mainland that have long driving distances—to pay the carbon tax and become carbon neutral,” said Hancock.
“In the pre-budget consultation, CUPE called for a special fund to avoid school closures. The fact there’s no additional funding here only increases the likelihood that we’ll see more of these closures.”
In post-secondary education, Hancock said, students are in a far worse economic situation than they were 20 years ago, but this budget is actually cutting student aid in B.C. over the next year, as well as per-student spending on educational institutions and organizations.
“This budget just continues the burden on people in this province who need those services. With the kind of surpluses we have, surely now is the time to undo some of the damage the Campbell government did in its first term.”
Contact: Mark Hancock, CUPE BC secretary-treasurer: (604) 340-6787
Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132