Nobody seems to be overly surprised that the provincial government has decided to use legislation to end yet another contract negotiation with B.C.’s teachers.
Historically, when it comes to contract negotiations, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the Liberal government have gotten along like milk and vinegar, with contract negotiations ending in legislation.
This time, however, the Liberals appear to have found opportunity in teachers’ job action. Premier Christy Clark, who is slumping in the polls, says she will not seek more taxpayer dollars to pay government workers. The BCTF, however, is quick to note that MLAs currently make around $102,000, on which they receive an annual percentage increase based on the consumer price index.
Meanwhile, Education Minister George Abbott says he is concerned for the vulnerable children who have been negatively impacted by the teachers’ job action. While this concern may be sincere, it certainly seems selective. According to Statistics Canada, B.C. has the worst child-poverty rate in the country, and the new provincial budget, recently announced by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, doesn’t appear to do anything to address this. Nor does it do anything to help parents struggling with day care or post-secondary students saddled with large loans.
North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers Association president Lynda Bennett says she is concerned the B.C. Liberal government has created a funding crisis through a taxation policy that has benefitted corporations at the expense of social programs, health care and education. Meanwhile, as Falcon tells British Columbians, there are bleak times ahead. He says he may increase the corporate tax by one per cent to 11, only if deemed necessary, and only in 2014, after the next provincial election.
No, it’s no surprise the Liberal government is pushing legislation on teachers. That’s just business as usual.