VICTORIA, BC CUPE BC president Barry ONeill called todays provincial budget a little Red Riding Hood budget that will no doubt show its claws after the upcoming provincial election.
Emphasising that the budget reads like a repeat of the liberals 2001 A New Era document, ONeill further suggests that the best that can be said about the current budgets promises are that they put some, the only some, public money back into the areas they [provincial liberals] devastated earlier in their mandate. Too little too late immediately comes to mind, said Barry ONeill.
While education and health remain acknowledged top priorities of British Columbians, the liberals are promising to cut MSP premiums by $40 million after raising them by $350 million.
ONeill also wonders what the liberals are doing with the social economic fund. The as yet undesignated projects will no doubt end up as a pre-election slush fund, he said.
In the area of K-12 education, ONeill is adamant. They say that they are increasing public school funding but it is common knowledge that this government made school boards pay for contracts imposed on teachers in 2001, and for increases in benefits costs.
ONeill wants all British Columbians to take note of the promise to increase private school funding by twice the percentage of their so called increase in public school funding. Ive seen the devastation that this government has brought about in areas such as the Kootenays, where I was just last weekend. As in other places in BCs heartlands, school boards, were forced to close schools and impose calendar changes such as the four-day school week, while independent schools like the one in Bountiful collected millions of public dollars to fund schools with questionable practices. In addition, says ONeill, how can this government talk about increasing support to the most vulnerable in our communities when they have reduced, by $881 million, the combined budgets of Children and Family Services, Employment, and Community and Aboriginal Services.
Despite all the promises made in todays budget, ONeill questioned whether or not the current government will go through with many of todays budget promises. One thing British Columbians have learned, is that this government will promise anything to get elected, ONeill said.
The CUPE BC president reminds British Columbians of the things the liberals promised they wouldnt do before the last election, like privatize BC Rail, and BCs public healthcare system.
The budget items that show the provincial liberals promising to raise their support for private schools while providing tax relief for P3 hospitals are, in my opinion, the real direction this government will take if given another opportunity. said ONeill.
Barry ONeill, CUPE BC President (604) 916-8444
Louise Leclair, CUPE National Representative (604) 454-4711