Campaign Platforms for the Peace River North Candidates - Election 2017
Here's my position on education:I am deeply committed to ensuring generous support for public education. That means that funding per student ratios need to be to highest in Canada. It also means that we need to strive to create ideal classroom size and composition levels that are based on what the educators of this province think are most advantageous for our students (not unqualified bureaucrats with no real classroom experience). Public education is the very foundation of our modern democratic society. Equality and justice stem from a healthy public education system. Our government needs to understand that truth. We need to say goodbye to the days where our system is starved of funds in the name of unjustifiable financial austerity. We need to say goodbye to the days where the relationship between teachers and government is based on hostility and acrimony. We need to act in the best interest of students instead of meeting the financial whims of a corporate agenda that does not serve the needs of the public as a whole. And finally, we need to support and listen to our teachers. What group better understands the needs of the system. Our public education will work best when it meets the needs of all of the important stakeholders including the public, the teachers and the students.
1. Job creation is my #1 priority. For too long we have seen a government that takes jobs in the North for granted. I will work hard to ensure we diversity our economy and develop new markets. This means building natural gas power generation in the North, developing LNG facilities for exports, investing in infrastructure (roads, bridges, rail, schools, and seniors housing) and prioritizing jobs for British Columbians on all infrastructure projects.
2. Insufficient funding and the downloading of costs for school districts must be addressed by a total implementation of the class size and composition losses that were restored by the Supreme Court. As an independent MLA not subject to the party discipline of either the Liberals or the NDP, I will be best able to work to address the committee’s recommendation.
3. Recruitment and retention are significant issues in the North. I will work to achieve regionally adjusted pay to address additional cost of living in the North. This would need to be addressed through additional Ministry funding rather than from existing district budgets. Pay isn’t everything, but it is essential to get it right and ensure northern teachers are adequately paid for their hard work.
4. Adult education programs help create jobs by allowing people to achieve a trade or a better job. I believe these programs are vital and should be funded though the Ministry.
5. The Supreme Court ruling speaks for itself. The Liberal government wasted too much time, energy, and money on this battle with teachers. Collective agreements are legally binding contracts and should be adhered to.
Children in poverty: 1. BC ranks high in the numbers of children living in poverty. Job losses, low wages, unaffordable housing and a high cost of living and child-care are some of the factors that contribute to the untenable situation many of our families face. What will you do to change this situation?
The Rural Social Development Fund that I outline in my platform could provide an opportunity for rural and northern communities to access funding for social development. Child care facilities, food banks, low income housing projects and many other social development agencies and initiatives could utilize this funding in order to begin to help people living in rural and northern communities who live in poverty. This first step in education is ensuring our children have a good nights sleep and adequate nutrition in order to aid in their educational experience and this plan would help meet those fundamental needs.
Education Funding: 2. The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services identified insufficient funding and downloaded costs for school districts as a major public education issue. What specific measures will you support to address the committee’s recommendation to provide “adequate, stable, and predictable funding” for K-12 public education?
I think reducing the amount of funding provided to independent schools would free up additional dollars that will provide adequate, stable, and predictable funding for K-12 public education. School districts would also benefit from dollars being redirected from independent school subsidies and the cost downloading issue could be mitigated in short order.
3. Teacher recruitment and retention is a huge issue in Peace River North. What steps will you take to address shortages?
Retention and recruitment continues to be an ongoing problem for many different employers in the Peace Region. To date, I am not aware of any creative or effective measures to address the issue. I am of the opinion that a blanket approach to encouraging qualified workers including teachers is an approach worth looking into. A significant and meaningful increase in the northern living allowance on the federal tax form would be a good start to attract and retain qualified workers as well as exploring more creative approaches such as student loan deferrals or implementing a provincial northern living allowance as examples.
4. The repeal of the Education Guarantee presents a huge barrier for adults who can least afford high tuition fees. Will you commit to restoring funding to allow graduated students to take adult education programs free of charge?
I really appreciated the Education Guarantee program and what it stood for. I think it is very unfortunate that this situation has occurred and I would advocate for the repeal to be reversed.
Fair Bargaining Practices: 5. The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision restored language illegally stripped from collective agreements between teachers and their employers. What assurances will you give that you will not unilaterally strip fairly negotiated provisions in collective agreements?
The decision to fight a 15 year war with teachers was never in the interest of British Columbians. I would never support any measure in the legislature that would strip fairly negotiated provisions in collective agreements and would be a loud voice against any action taking place in the future.