One of the things I’ve enjoyed most so far in this election is knocking on doors and meeting my neighbours in Kits, Point Grey, and at UBC. Hearing each person’s concerns, hopes, and dreams for our province is highly motivating for me.
While the environment, the economy, and the management of our province are front of mind for many people at the doorstep, one of the issues for voters in Vancouver-Point Grey that comes up again and again is education policy in B.C. Citizens are clearly worried that B.C. is failing its youngest citizens.
The latest Liberal budget, released in February, did nothing to improve the state of our education system. Instead, it froze block funding to public schools and cut $46 million from higher education. Since taking power in 2001, the Liberals have closed 200 schools, and education funding has been cut. As a result, we now have the worst student-to-educator ratio in Canada, with over 12,000 classrooms exceeding legislated class size targets.
British Columbians deserve better. The fully-costed B.C. NDP 2013 election platform includes a $40 million investment in skills training, $60 million to lower the cost of childcare by opening new spaces and subsidizing existing spaces, and $100 million annually for a needs-based student grants program. This education initiative anticipates hiring 1,000 new teachers across the province.
We must improve access to higher education to ensure everyone has a fair chance at the jobs of the future. We must also ensure companies know that if they come to B.C., they’ll find the skilled workers they need. By reallocating existing Liberal commitments and changing our spending priorities for the better, the B.C. NDP has clearly shown how we will pay for these commitments, fully costing them in our proposed fiscal budget through 2016.
On May 14, we can take steps as a province towards change for the better. We can invest in our youth, and in our future. We can make British Columbia a leader in education, and prepare our children for the economy of the future. A vote for the B.C. NDP this election is a vote for education, and a vote for practical change for the better in our schools.