Over 2000 jobs cut to pay for $2.5 billion election slush fund
VANCOUVER, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - The B.C. Government's Budget 2011, tabled in
the legislature today promises only more of the same staff and program
cuts for important public services, the B.C. Government and Service
Employees' Union said today.
"The B.C. Liberal government had promised a placeholder throne speech
and budget due to their leadership race, and have instead delivered a
budget plan that imposes three more years of cuts and unmet service
needs, while creating a slush fund for the incoming premier's pet
projects," said BCGEU president Darryl Walker.
"Meanwhile, single mothers can't access legal aid to obtain custody
orders, and we don't have enough staff to operate our courts or jails
safely or monitor offenders in the community. And yet the B.C. Liberal
government's answer is to cut even further. Unbelievable."
Overall public service staff levels, excluding transfers, are slated to
drop by nearly 1000 positions in the next fiscal year. Over the three
year term of the budget, the public service is projected to be reduced
by seven per cent, or more than 2000 positions.
"The fact that these cuts are expected to be made through attrition
won't matter to the public, who rely on government services in their
communities," says Walker.
Even the recent creation of the Natural Resources Operation [NRO]
Ministry is not immune to spending cuts, noted the BCGEU. In fact, the
natural resources sector is particularly hard hit in this budget. The
combined ministry budgets of NRO, Environment, Forests Mines and Lands
will be cut by roughly $50 million in the next year, a six per cent
reduction on top of recent funding cuts.
"Yesterday's throne speech talked about the important role of public
service workers in our province," said Walker. "However, this budget
shows that the throne speech is only more empty rhetoric from a B.C.
Liberal government that has run out of ideas."
The only area of the budget to receive significant spending increases
are health services, which the Finance Minister boasts will see B.C.
claim the second lowest spending per capita in Canada.
"Seniors needing home support services, or patients being moved from
Riverview Hospital into already stretched community mental health
resources can take cold comfort from a government that brags about
being second lowest in health spending," says Walker.
Also of note, the nearly 10,000 community social service workers who
have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement for more than
a year will find no solutions in the budget, which maintains the
current "net zero" negotiating mandates for collective agreements
expiring to the end of 2011. No compensation mandate is outlined for
contracts expiring after this date.
"B.C. businesses will soon pay the lowest corporate taxes in the G7,"
says Walker. "But the price we pay for this low corporate tax regime is
dramatically fewer public services and longer wait times. And while the
Finance Minister brags that tax cuts have put more money in British
Columbians' pockets, he fails to acknowledge that user fees and
premiums are taking even more out of the other pocket."
The 2011 budget projects that medical service plan premium revenues will
increase by more than 25 per cent over the next three years.
"In 11 days we will know who the next B.C. premier will be," said
Walker. "B.C. needs to chart a new course that reinvests in vital
public services and rejects the current path of spending cuts on top of
spending cuts, to give tax breaks to corporations."
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information:
Chris Bradshaw at 604-291-9611