Education Common Theme At Committee Hearings
Prince George, B.C. The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services has been hearing one recurring issue during its public hearings on what should be in the next provincial budget.
That issue is education.
Three of the `12 submissions made by Prince George organizations dealt with education, Committee Deputy Chair Carole James says that is typical of the submissions from other venues “I would say if there was something that was consistent community by community, it really is the issue of both k-12 and post secondary education.”
She says issues raised include the pressures people are facing in the k-12 system from school closures to not enough support for students with special needs while in the post secondary education area its about the huge debt loads students face, and the lack of access to upgrading with adult basic education.
Then there’s social services and again it’s about funding. James says not for profits are facing major financial challenges ” Gaming grants have come up, consistent funding, stable funding is a theme if you listen a to the groups whether it’s education whether it’s sports groups or arts groups, people are all saying the same thing. Doing things by short term grants isn’t the way to fix the challenges we are facing in our province, we need long term stable funding then we can go out and find matching funding. I think that the renewing part for me is that these groups and organizations and others presenting, aren’t asking for government to fix it all, they’re saying ‘we’ll go out and find matching funds, we’re able to stretch a dollar better than anyone can, but we need that stable funding as our anchor in order to be able to find that other funding.”
The issue was also front and centre for the Child Development Centre, which says 56% of the children it works with in Prince George are developmentally delayed when entering kindergarten and only 10% of those children are ‘delayed’ due to biological reasons. The centre says it is facing a financial crunch, having not seen any financial increases in years. It asked for a 50% increase in its therapy programs to cover the gaps in demand. It also asked for the Province to stop systematically underfunding child development services across BC.
The Physiotherapists for Northern Communities called for an increase in seats for physiotherapy training with 20 of those seats to be made available for education at UNBC. During the summer, the lack of physiotherapists was a “critical” with some physicians no longer referring patients for physiotherapy because there just aren’t any available to provide the service. “When someone is injured it is critical there is timely intervention” said physiotherapist Terry Fedorkiw. They also pointed out there are no physiotherapists at any of the residential care facilities in Prince George. Once again, they stressed the importance of training students in the north the students will stay in the north.
The submissions must be received by October 14th, and the Committee must issue its report to government by November 15th.