VICTORIA – British Columbia’s latest budget is full of empty promises, ignores real problems, and will increase instability in BC’s public education system, BCTF First Vice-President Glen Hansman said today.
“Budget 2014 makes a lot of promises about trades, transforming education, and supporting teachers and students, but there is nothing to back those promises up,” said Hansman. “For example, there is a long list of promises around trades education and its importance to BC’s economic future. However, there is no new funding to deal with the unsafe and overcrowded shop classes we have across the province today. BC teachers used to have contract language limiting the number of students in a technology education class to 24. But since Christy Clark unconstitutionally stripped our collective agreements in 2002, class sizes have grown and become unsafe. The government’s decision to appeal the BC Supreme Court’s latest ruling shows the BC Liberals are not serious about improving learning conditions in BC schools or about their own policy initiatives.”
According to Statistics Canada, British Columbia currently funds public education $1,000 less per student than the national average. Only PEI is worse than BC, and this gap in funding continues to have serious implications for students.
“Budget 2014 is another step back for education funding and means BC kids are still being short-changed compared to other students across Canada,” said Hansman. “There is no new funding to deal with millions in rising costs downloaded onto school districts like another MSP hike and huge BC Hydro increases. That means, despite the government’s claims, more cuts to classrooms and less services to support all children, including those with special needs.
“Christy Clark’s government has claimed that there is no way to reduce class sizes, hire the needed specialist teachers, and improve class composition. However, there is a surplus and a sizable contingency fund. The government just chose not to put the funds into schools and education. After losing two rounds in BC Supreme Court, it’s time for government to respect teachers, the work we do, and properly fund BC’s education system.”
BC teachers and the BC Public School Employers’ Association have been at the bargaining table for over a year. Teachers expect the government to enable the employer to negotiate a fair deal, in good faith, that will recognize the important work that BC public school teachers do every day and put new resources into classrooms.