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October 28, 2017 4:42 am

Government Education Cuts Come Under Fire

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 @ 4:18 AM
Crowd listeners to one of the many open mike speakers at education forum.  Photo- 250News

Crowd listeners to one of the many open mike speakers at education forum. Photo- 250News

Prince George, B.C. – People who care passionately about the state of education in BC turned out at CNC Monday night to voice, unanimously, their concern that the agenda of the present Liberal government is doing incalculable harm to education at the public school, college and university levels.

The “Education North” Forum, organized by CUPE, was attended by people from all walks of life: parents, educators, CNC senior management, members of the Board of Governors of CNC and for UNBC, school trustees, members of the Parent Advisory Committee and District Parent Advisory Committee, support workers from District 57, the College and University and concerned citizens.   They were there to discuss budgetary shortfalls, underfunding and program cutbacks resulting from what they believe to be the government’s mishandling of the Education and Advanced Education ministries for several years.

Karen Wong, President of CUPE Local 3742 representing District 57 support workers, called this “a really important community event and we’re creating conversation within our community, the community in the north.  “In our district alone in the past decade we’ve lost 22 schools.  There is absolutely nowhere to cut in our district.  The provincial government says you have to submit a balanced budget, which will put our district in another $3.3 million deficit.  This is heaped on a decade of shortfalls this district has endured since 2002.”

“So the solution from our government is that famous cut the low-hanging fruit.  In School district 57 there is no low-hanging fruit, there’s nothing left to cut, we did that years ago and students and children are suffering for it.  I look at our administration staff, our Human Resources department and our managers, and they’re run off their feet, they’re exhausted, I see it in their faces.  We’re exhausted too.  The whole education system is exhausted.”

Brian Trotter, representing maintenances workers in District 57, says of the 22 schools closed in the district some have been sold, three have been demolished and others re-purposed, “but many just sit there and deteriorate.”  The provincial government doesn’t recognize that there are many fixed, non-educational costs that are borne by the district.”  He says those include heating, power, life-savings system upkeep, telephone lines, maintaining the grounds and any remaining equipment, snow-clearing in the winter.  “The cost of upkeep of these closed schools is not funded by student funding, it comes directly out of the budget of School District 57.”

Parent Janet Bigelow says “it’s time to speak out.  When our children were sick we didn’t think twice about advocating to get them the medical care they needed.  This is no different, this is their livelihood, their education, their future.  And I think as a parent we need to speak out and let these elected officials know that we mean business and that we will not stop until they listen.”

She says the government’s Bill 11 is an anti-democratic attack on education which negates the voters’ decision of the last election.  “Back in November we worked hard to make sure we elected the school trustees we wanted there to fight for our communities.  You know what this bill is all about?  If they don’t do what this government says they’re supposed to do, if they stand up and say no we cannot balance the budget, we need more money from you, they’re going to walk in, get rid of the people that you had elected and put people in there that say what they want them to say.  That’s what Bill 11 is about.”

Lily Bachand, representing operational staff at CNC, says “we are facing a $2.8 million deficit in the 2015-16 fiscal (year).  Unfortunately we have a possibility of another $2 million deficit for the nest fiscal.  According to this government we need a balanced budget.”  She says CNC’s satellite campuses across the region helps “to make education more accessible to people in rural areas.  Program cuts threaten accessibility of education to the northern population.  If training is not provided to these local communities it will remain a challenge to attract skilled professionals to come and work in the north and more important, to stay in the north.”

The Vice-President of the UNBC Faculty Association, Erik Jensen, says the recent strike by faculty at the university was about the future of education in northern BC in terms “building capacity in these communities, keeping young people in the communities, building new businesses and strengthening our communities.”  He says “we’re really seeing the long-term effects of these slow, deliberate cuts every year.  A few percent here, a few percent there, it’s really caused a lot of difficulties in terms of our structure at the university.”

Jensen says it has become difficult to do any long-term planning adding “education is a long-term endeavor, taking kids from the K-12 system on to the college or university system.  You’re talking the better part of maybe 20 years that their lives are in these systems.  I think we have to get the message to our politicians that they really have to think about the long-term health of our communities.”

School District 57 Board Chair Tony Cable told the gathering “a number of the school district trustees are in attendance tonight because we have a real problem with these cuts.  I’m a former teacher and principal and I’ve spent 35 years in this system, and I’ve seen the cuts first-hand.  Some of our students have spent 12 years and don’t know anything else but the cuts in education and that’s not right.”

“As a new board we were really hoping that after a bitter teachers’ strike and all sorts of problems in education, we thought this would be the year that things would stabilize.  We weren’t looking for increases but were just hoping that at least things would stay status quo and we could start planning and we could look after the education of the students.  But no, that didn’t happen and it’s a real problem.”

Cable outlined the problems the district and the board are dealing with.  “We are looking at $3.3 million that we have to find somewhere in the system.  We hear all the time, trustees why don’t you just go and tell the government that we can’t do the cuts, and that’s it.  What’s going to happen is what happened in Lake Cowichan.  The next day the board will be fired, a man will be brought in, a woman, to look after all the cuts and they’ll do exactly what the government wants.  There will be no local decision-making or local input.”

“So that’s a real big decision this board has to make, and we’re leaning towards working with all the partners to try to make these cuts but listening to the local people and trying to see how we can do it in with as less a problem as we can find.  We’d like to keep the cuts as far away from the classrooms and schools as we can, if that’s possible.”

“We have been told that we have to find $727,000 in administrative cuts.  Not sure how that’s going to be done. And then they said oh by the way, maybe next year you could also find $626,000.  So we’ve got further cuts next year.  So that’s $1.3 million in just that one area.”

“What really made me upset was $27 million was cut from public education in British Columbia, and in the same breath the government said we’re going to give $30 million additional funding to private schools.  Now I don’t have any issue with private schools, they serve a function.  But my job and our trustees’ job is to be advocates for the public system.  We want a quality, free education system and its getting harder and harder to do that with a lack of funding.”

Richard Giroday, who taught in the system here for 26 years, posed several questions.  “Why does the Minister of Education claim continuously that underfunding is a myth?  Why do trustees who have to look within their budgets to find cuts across this province speak out to stop the underfunding?  Why do teachers speak out to stop the underfunding?  Why does a child who has some difficulties in Grade 1 have to wait till Grade 4 or 5 to be tested to determine what those difficulties are?  What’s driving this government’s agenda?  Who is driving this government’s agenda?”

“Why does it continue to underfund education?  And why does the government have to enact laws that empower the Minister of Education with complete control to dismiss boards and appoint a public administrator that’s hand-picked by the minister?  Why is it necessary in our democratic system for the minister to have that kind of power?”

There were many other speakers who questioned why the government has an agenda to impoverish education, who stated that education adds value to our society.   And it appears momentum is building toward a very vocal and visible protest against the government’s lack of funding for education and spending priorities.  A public campaign will be rolled out in the near future.


The ultra rich in Vancouver will get their education one way or another. Funding education in the North is clearly not on their priority list… that takes tax dollars, and they erroneously think the tax dollars come from them, but they got all the tax cuts and its the resource communities taking the service cuts that are the ones subsidizing tax cuts to the rich and the corporations.

When students in this province pay more in tuition than the government collects in corporate taxes, we know we have a funding imbalance… those corporations after all are the benefactor of an educated work force… unless of course they just import their skilled worker needs.

Maybe if we stopped shoveling so much money into the wages and benefits for public sector employees we’d be able to spend more on education?

Axman.. What does cutting 27 million from public schools and giving private 30 million have to do with wages?

Just gotta shake your head. They talk about how the strike was to build better education, faculty strike – come on, it was about wages and benefits pure and simple.
The percent or two being pulled out every year is the difference between increases in funding and wage and benefit increases. Eventually it catches up with you, well people that day has arrived and unless someone comes up with something it will continue on a downhill spiral. City halls are in the same boat, the simple answer is always to increase taxes but unfortunately (maybe fortunately for the taxpayer) school boards are not in control of raising taxes like city hall is.
There are some pretty smart mathematicians in the system, give them a go with the data and I bet dollars to donuts they come up with a stable solution, unfortunately it will be what people already know but don’t want to hear

What a surprise; a group of hand-wringing progressives got together for a whine and cheese party. After the obviously well fed group helped themselves to yet another meal, they all sat around and nodded heads in unison like a shelf full of bobble heads during an earth tremor, after every meaningless empty rehashed speech. Next.

The problem is, and remains, a decade of very deep cuts in funding by the provincial government. I’m glad to see that our local concerns are focused on the Clark Brigade – that’s the only way we’re going to ever dig ourselves out of this trench and once again educate northern communities as they require. The contempt shown to our taxpaying citizens may FINALLY come to an end.

The left has this one size fits all solution to everything. Elect the much lampooned NDP. It enables them to avoid any thought of working with the governing party or offering any alternatives other than spend more taxpayer dollars on pensions and salaries, while decreasing the workload.
When, as we all know, the NDP will eventually fall into government out of the law of averages and the twice in a century rule, all the dippers will find that the government can’t simply print money, the confrontations with much beholden public sector unions will begin.

Pval what does increasing the education budget by 110 million have to do with wages? Oh right, the hard fought teachers strike and CUPE increases eats that up pretty quick. The 27 million you refer to is not given to the private schools – oh no, no. no – that is the BCTF/CUPE spin doctoring. It is given to the teachers contract.

There is a 80 million increase to the public system and 30 million to the private.
If you were head of a department and given 80 million more dollars and joe shmo head of another department was given 30 million extra dollars and your boss said to you “now with your 80 million I just gave you, you also need to find me some savings of 27 million within this department.” You would say back “you just took the 27 million away from me and gave it to joe shmo.”

You don’t think Cedar’s is running as efficiently as possible? Poor Yiker must be shaking in his custom made leather boots sucking on a mohito…oh wait, he gets his portion and no skin off his nose.

Jimmy, it’s not just the left who are fed up with the Liberals. I just happen to expect better of them.

I can’t help but think back to the way the province seemed to be a progressive when WAC Bennet was premier. The ferry system seemed to be to serve the people. The province seemed to be vibrant and growing. Teachers were a union to constantly be attacked; in fact the weren’t even in a union.

The Liberal gov’t today seems intent on creating divisiveness within the province: fighting with teachers or nurses or other unions. I believe that much of this may be a deliberate attempt to shift focus from some of their more questionable decisions. Selling BC Rail, getting $85 mil for land appraised at $128 mil (especially $100, 000 for a parcel appraised at over $5 mil) come to mind. Not examples of good gov’t.

In such a resource rich province, it seems that the Liberal approach is to “stick it” to the electorate.
This includes starving education.

Rats: typo.
Teachers were NOT a union to constantly be attacked; in fact the weren’t even in a union.

Why do Conservatives hate Education?

Are Conservatives afraid of smart people?

Education isn’t a religion or a political party, so why the capitalization? You just have to laugh at the self righteous nature of some of the posts in here. The content is pablum, but the presentation speaks volumes. Thanks for living up to the stereo type.

The Socreds of either Bennett era wouldn’t and couldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of today’s media. Corrupt from top to bottom. Stepped all over native’s rights in the resource and hydro-electric sector. What a laugh. Their policies would be dead in the water and ministers marched off to jail in today’s political climate. Thanks for the halcion days redux.

Jimmy.. 4 posts here alone and you have yet to say anything..bravo

Well we all must agree that giving our children a good education is a must.

It doesnt matter if its private school, public school or home schooling.. they must all meet certain standards so they can carry on to post secondary education.

Anyone in grade school will need post secondary school, its not like when I graduated and all you needed was a drivers license to get a good paying job. The basic expectations for employment constantly change demanding more education.

Our current government needs to think farther into the future than the next election.
They have to realize the more they cut from education the more it will hurt us in the future. There has been a shortage of skilled workers in BC for a very long time and they have yet to do anything of real improvement to stop this shortage except throwing the odd crumb with media coverage to make themselves look good.

So, let me get this straight. In P Val’s world if a union hack calls a meeting of all the navel-gazers and hand-wringers to whine and whinge about the election they lost and what that might mean to their solid gold pensions, I’m supposed to offer up a cogent solution? In the midst of so much group think and union hall hyperbole? Why?
This is just various unions trying to prove they are still relevant. After being smacked down in the most recent BCTF strike/debacle/humiliation the public sector unions are struggling to find ANY public support. While the corporate clown at the helm of the province just keep on sailing along, oblivious to an opposition that is just deemed clueless by the real electorate.

What a laugh. The artsy fartsy crowd, who believes a BA in the Arts is the key to unlock a future of success for everyone, controls the Education system from top to bottom. If you want to know why the “trades” are not supported well at any level of government, just look no further than the union that employs them and a college that has to be dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing to any new skilled trades program. But we have a huge staff of on site counsellors for all those suffering any angst, and a dental program offering cut rate services to people who can afford to pay the full cost. As well as the daycare center that doesn’t cater to any students or staff, but rather the chosen connected few.

Is this increase in 30 million because private schools increased their enrollment, or is it because the government increased everyone’s budget by 1%, public and private alike, and that would make sense, as the private is 50% of the public, so if public goes up, private goes up. Because if even half of it is because of increased enrollment.

15 million more to private schools based on a formula of about 3500.00 per kid means the private schools increased their catchment by 4250 students.

It also means, there’s a good chance the public system, lost 4250 students, and at the $7,000.00 they get per child, it actually cost them 30 million, because they aren’t funded for kids that aren’t there.

So the good news, is the taxpayer is 15 million ahead because a bunch of parents who already pay taxes for the schools, have agreed to take half as much from the system as they did before, and pick up the slack out of their own pocket.

The irony in all of this, is the BCTF so pi**ed off those parents, they got sick of the public system and moved their kids to the private (assuming the strike was a motivating factor), and assume a class size of 25, that’s 170 teachers no longer needed, and 170 monthly union dues gone.

Artsy fartsy ba ? That’s funny . Your fella Bob , he’s got a ba in human kinetics . I guess he wanted to be a PE teacher when he grew up . Mike how ever is a mystery . Not proud of his education , work life ( if any) . Nothing in his wiki other than how much he spent to get elected . Glaring omition or lack of pride or lots to hide . Hmmm.

Continuing on Ataloss’s comment, Minister Bond did not complete her UNBC BA but did received a Diploma in Arts and Sciences from CNC. Living proof the the Libs do not value or respect education, as Minister Bond was a part of the parade of Ministers that continued to undermine Education funding.

What’s with mike Morris . What are his qualifications ? What’s his level of education ? Has he ever had a job ? Has he ever lead anything ? Was he a Boy Scout ?

…and yet they beat your over-educated union hacks without breaking a sweat. Next. Let me write that in a language you will understand, Albatross: Baaaaaa!

anotherside “Minister Bond did not complete her UNBC BA but did received a Diploma in Arts and Sciences from CNC. Living proof the the Libs do not value or respect education, as Minister Bond was a part of the parade of Ministers that continued to undermine Education funding.”

I think you’re on to something. Imagine if you managed to become a Minister of the Province with just a Diploma – I think I’d begin to wonder if all that higher education is of much value if that’s all I needed.

And here’s a frightening thought – she’s probably right.

I posted on another thread, and I still maintain, a lot of what is taught in post-secondary education is essentially of no value to creating wealth or getting a job, and yet taxpayer dollars are routinely directed to these programs because someone wants a degree in ancient languages.

In public school, the big issue there is the grand experiment of integration where we dumb down everyone to the lowest common denominator – whereas in my day, we had another system to deal with all the challenged and troubled children. I doubt I could handle being a teacher in the public system as it’s currently configured – I’d probably take a pay cut and go teach in a private school just for my sanity.

Bond was elected while still a student at UNBC..so actually that is more of testament to how pathetic the NDP nominee was. Lol!

Wow ! I agree with Jimmie . John Horgan was the reason I crossed over to the Green Party after 43 years with the NDP. Hiding his past from wiki was the last straw . If the public can’t even compare candidates qualifications as easy as a click away , then something stinks .

I find it hilarious that someone keeps bringing up Wiki pages as their online source of info. Maybe I should go update it to show that Mr Morris manned a mission to the space station and has a triple degree. Would that make you feel better, because you realize I could do that right?

The next generation will sort out this union issue btw – they will be gone like the dinosaurs they are. Don’t worry. “Kids” today have no appetite for protecting the slovenly at the expense of the go-getters.

Try it interceptor . Billposer ( 250 commenter ) updated Ben meisner page . Yes I do know that you could make up lies about mike . It happens a bit but for the most part is accurate . If you want to reach the new high tech young voter , then you’ve got to get in their game but I think it’s more a case of hiding the lack of credentials .

nobody wants the government to raise taxes but they want the government to give out money on every issue. That doesn’t work sorry

Interceptor , do you know where one can research mikes qualifications and or John horgans ? It would be helpful .

Actually johnnyb45 – you are wrong. The people do want government to raise taxes. They want the government to raise taxes on those who make more than they do, they want government to raise taxes on corporations (because they have defined benefit pension plans – so they don’t care that their pension plan has invested in self same corporations and depend on dividends to fund the pensions – any shortfall is made up by the taxpayer.) They remind me of a line in star trek when the Klingon doesn’t know which James T. Kirk to shoot (one was a shape shifter) Kirk says “don’t shoot me you idiot – shoot him.”

It could be reworded – “don’t tax me you idiot – tax him”

The School Board should put in a deficit budget and let the chips all where they may. We as taxpayers do not expect them to be constantly under duress from the Government, (if that’s the case) and doing what they think is right is their responsibility. If they fall by the wayside and are replaced by a Government appointed individual, then so be it. We will be able to determine very quickly what side is right.

This whole issue in being pushed by CUPE, and other Unions or affiliate’s etc; The BCTF is basically an NDP money pit.

It would be nice to see a list of the number of people not associated with the Unions (ie; Commercial and Individual Taxpayers) that attended this function. I suggest not many. Mainly because we never hear the end of the hardships that these Union/Teachers/ etc; have to endure to provide us with an education system.

Perhaps they should remember that the education of the students in this Province is the responsibility of the Province. The Provincial Government sets the policy, and the various staff and unions implement the policy. For far to long the teachers and others have operated under the illusion that they somehow are responsible for the policy. They seem to forget that they are in fact employee’s and as such should get on with getting the job done.

Ataloss, use google, took less than 10 seconds to get to Mike Morris’ home page. Why go to a wiki page that anyone can post on, just go on Mike’s site and click “about”. Click on news and you can watch a few videos…etc

Because I don’t want to leave cookies on his site and could I trust his site to be any more truthful than wiki . Once they get your addy they never leave one alone . If his team like horgans can’t even promote themselves in a public medium ,then I have no time for them . Why should the public chase them around ? They want our vote not the other way around . Tell us what qualifies them to run anything slinky .

Simple, use a proxy

Are you being funny .

Its all the unions fault for the cuts to education.. thats hilarious.. its not that the liberals are cutting everywhere since they have to met their “balanced” budget. Its not that the liberals had relied on all the gazillions of dollars from LNG that they have dropped the ball on…its the unions fault for them taking 900 million dollars from icbc.. its the damn unions I tell ya… its not the millions that crusty spent in courts on a losing battle against the teachers union when she illegally ripped up the teachers contract…it not the millions that the gov was fined for ripping up the contract…its the damn unions… its okay for her to spend $500,000 a year on her gov credit card.. must be taking union leaders out for suppers.. damn unions.. wonder how it was the fault of the unions for the liberals spending 6 million to pay for the basi trial costs..

What a laugh. The artsy fartsy crowd, who believes a BA in the Arts is the key to unlock a future of success for everyone… has to be the most ignorant uniformed post ever on here… just because you think success is based on money doesnt mean everyone else does.. some find more success helping others than worrying about themselves and what toys they have..

Funny? No incognito on a proxy server and you get zilch cookies and they haven’t a clue on your isp. Thought you were twitterified

P Val – I have a thought for you to ponder – with respect. It is my firm believe that most organizations are created to serve people, and then in time, it is the people that serve the organization. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a union, church, government, Northern Health etc.

When unions first came onto the scene in a big way, they had a huge uphill battle. My dad (a professional boxer), used to do picket duty along with a few of his buddies because Pinkerton guards would show up and they would duke it out on the picket line – and it was legal for the company to remove the “riffraff” from the front of their business which they could operate with replacement workers if they wanted. Back then you absolutely needed unions to address the imbalance of power between owner and worker.

Now, the union exists more for itself, than it’s workers, and it pounds it’s chest every now and then to pretend it’s relevant, but at the end of the day, it’s all about collecting enough dues to keep their lights on, and their staff paid.

Northern Health – is an organization of people who shuffle paper around and have meetings and seminars, and group hugs, and few if any of them would be honest enough to admit – they really aren’t there to improve patient care.

Northern health is so management heavy it a huge cost..1 manager for 4 employees..my manager has 36 employees.. So get rid of 75% of the managers in northern health and that would save tens of millions.

I do agree that some abuse the unions..I also hate when a union backs a lousy worker..but nothing is perfect.. those are the ones all the union haters use for their examples..but unions also keep management in check of not abusing the workers or following the contract they are working under.

And so P Val, you make a point of telling your Union that you hate when they back a lousy worker?

Perhaps you should speak up! After all, you have no problem condemning management, so we know that you aren’t afraid to speak up, haha!

Hart guy.. I don’t work in a union place.. Not sure how many times I have to say that but you seem to be very slow at comprehending that.. Maybe your union can send you to school ;)

btw hart guy…when I was 17 working in a union plant a union member was caught stealing a lift of plywood..and the unions saved his job… but the same year the union got a realistic retirement package and dental..

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