Provincial underfunding leads to public education cuts

April 28, 2016

 Underfunded: B.C. has the second lowest per student public education funding in CanadaUnderfunded: B.C. has the second lowest per student public education funding in Canada

The $24 million Vancouver School Board budget shortfall is the direct result of systemic education underfunding from the Christy Clark government.
There have been 240 schools closures in B.C. under Clark, ten-year delays in seismic upgrades, the longest school strike in B.C. history, and tens of millions of dollars in downloaded costs onto school boards.

B.C. underfunds public education by almost $1000 a student, compared to the national average. In fact, B.C. has the second-lowest per-student public education funding in Canada. It’s clear that public education is at the bottom
of Clark’s priority list: she gave a $230 million tax break to millionaires in her budget, and then targeted $54 million in cuts to public education. B.C. students and parents deserve better.

I am a strong believer in the importance of a robust public education system, and I will continue to advocate for improved funding for B.C. schools. We must provide stable, adequate long term funding for our classrooms, to ensure that every student in B.C. has the opportunity to benefit from a well-supported public education.

In what was surely a difficult decision, Vancouver School Board trustees have rejected a budget that would have resulted in deep cuts to school programming. This tough decision may ultimately lead to the board’s dismissal and trustees who voted against education cuts deserve our support. I stand with the board in calling for better funding from the province.

Wildlife management needs overhaul

Endangered: B.C.’s wildlife policies must emphasize conservation and habitat protection.Endangered: B.C.’s wildlife policies must emphasize conservation and habitat protection.

Fish and wildlife conservation in B.C. lags behind other jurisdictions, especially when it comes to habitat conservation and protecting species at risk. I support science-based conservation, and more inclusive collaboration
and consultation on land use, including adequate funding for habitat management.

The Sustainable Wildlife Management Act, recently presented by my colleague MLA Katrine Conroy, requires science-based objectives, and relies on peer-review to set habitat and wildlife management policy. The bill would establish a wildlife management planning roundtable, working in collaboration with First Nations, and stakeholder groups.

Conservation of fish, wildlife, and habitat must be a priority when planning for land and water use activities. The bill ensures adequate funding goes towards wildlife management and habitat by establishing a special account.
By implementing science-based habitat and population management, and seeking out the expertise and experience of First Nations, conservationists, as well as resident hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, we can ensure
a sustainable wildlife.


Poverty reduction legislation reintroduced

I’m proud to support the Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act recently put forward by my colleague, MLA Michelle Mungall.

B.C. is the only province in the country without a poverty reduction plan. Record high food bank usage, unaffordable housing, and stubbornly high child poverty rates show that our economy is not benefiting many in B.C.

If passed, the act would mandate government to develop a poverty reduction strategy within one year, and legislate specific targets and time lines to reduce poverty and the impact it has on families. This will be the fifth time since 2011 that we have introduced legislation to tackle poverty.

Tackling poverty and creating economic inclusion are high on my list of priorities, and I will continue to push for the adoption of targeted poverty reduction legislation, with measurable goals and time lines to ensure that
all British Columbians can access affordable housing, education, child-care, skills training, and financial assistance when needed.

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