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The leader of BCs largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), is calling on the provincial government to reconsider its current economic course, or risk triggering an avalanche of economic ruin and devastated lives.

Barry ONeill, president of CUPE BC, told the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services today that the governments freeze on health and education spending combined with its plan to cut 35 per cent of all other government services will not only reduce our quality of life, it puts the health and well-being of working people and our families in peril.

ONeill cited the negative impacts funding freezes and cuts will have on education, health, safety, and environmental standards.

A frozen education budget is going to come at the expense of those who need our support the most children with special needs.

I fear it will also sentence our children to spending their days in dirty and unhealthy schools. Custodial and maintenance services have already been cut so much in some school districts that teachers have identified this as a health and safety issue, he told the committee.

ONeill also called for renewed funding not cutbacks and deregulation for public services such as water quality monitoring. This government cannot offload its responsibility for environmental protection to local communities, he said. This is just asking for a disaster like Walkerton to happen here.

In the wake of the events of September 11, citizens are calling for increasing government control in the provision of public services. Now is the time to build and strengthen these services, not dismantle them, ONeill contended.

CUPE represents more than 65,000 workers in British Columbia. Most of these people are front line workers who see the immediate impact of funding cuts on the communities they serve.


Media, please contact Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President at 604-916-8444
Teresa Marshall, Communications Representative at 604-313-6103