Budget 'green' spin leaves public services in the cold



    Carbon tax hype draws attention away from funding needs for women,
    children, students

    VICTORIA, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - The provincial budget's overwhelming focus on
'green' initiatives such as the new carbon tax is drawing attention away from
critical funding shortages for K-12 and post-secondary education, community
services, childcare, and housing, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said
today.
    "Our public services are becoming unsustainable. This budget does nothing
to retain services for women, children, students and institutions," said CUPE
BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock.
    "The Campbell government's solution for homelessness is still emergency
shelters. This budget forecasts $100 million for housing over three years, but
three quarters of that money is being spent on emergency shelters. Emergency
shelters are not housing."
    Hancock noted that the province is committed to capital funding of
for-profit childcare spaces, which will only lead to cuts in pay for childcare
workers.
    "The only money for childcare is coming from the federal government, and
it does nothing to address the recruitment and retention problems in child
care, because childcare workers don't get paid enough," he said.
    "In this budget, the government is also predicting no increase in the
number of women and children requiring shelter through transition house
services, or outreach services up to 2011. That just doesn't reflect reality."
    Also of concern, he said, is that the amount of money put aside for
school boards is not enough.
    "The increases will not be enough to pay for salary increases and other
costs committed this year, and - particularly in the case of school districts
beyond the Lower Mainland that have long driving distances - to pay the carbon
tax and become carbon neutral," said Hancock.
    "In the pre-budget consultation, CUPE called for a special fund to avoid
school closures. The fact there's no additional funding here only increases
the likelihood that we'll see more of these closures."
    In post-secondary education, Hancock said, students are in a far worse
economic situation than they were 20 years ago, but this budget is actually
cutting student aid in B.C. over the next year, as well as per-student
spending on educational institutions and organizations.
    "This budget just continues the burden on people in this province who
need those services. With the kind of surpluses we have, surely now is the
time to undo some of the damage the Campbell government did in its first
term."





For further information:

For further information: Mark Hancock, CUPE BC secretary-treasurer:
(604) 340-6787; Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132

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