BURNABY–Four CUPE locals are hosting a public education forum to discuss concerns about chronic underfunding and cuts to all levels of education. Universities, colleges and K-12 schools have endured more than a decade of funding cuts. These cuts not only threaten education services but will also make it more difficult to attract skilled professionals to live and work in rural areas and northern cities.
"The B.C. government has got to do better," said CUPE BC President Mark Hancock, who will be one of the speakers at the public forum. "This Liberal government would rather give a two per cent tax break to those earning over $150,000 per year, than to properly fund public education that benefits everyone."
Hancock noted that K-12 school districts are attempting to cope with a $29 million shortfall in administrative funding in this year's budget, and post-secondary institutions are facing $50 million in administrative cuts. These cuts are in addition to years of unfunded mandates and funding shortfalls.
In the North, the College of New Caledonia Board is considering cutting course offerings; dental programs that provide much needed dental work to many low-income residents; counselling services; and the daycare which houses a unique Early Childhood Education facility. In Burns Lake, cuts will remove innovative programs and services that support community needs and college services.
The College of New Caledonia has campuses in Prince George, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Quesnel and Mackenzie. Lily Bachand, CUPE 4951 president, notes that each regional campus provides different services and has unique needs.
"Northern communities need different things than larger communities," said Bachand. "If we take public education services out of communities through chronic underfunding, everyone in the community suffers."
What: Free public event – Education North Forum
When: Monday, April 20, 2015 (food served at 5 pm, speakers at 6 pm (followed by an open mic)
Where: College of New Caledonia Gathering Place, 3330 22nd Ave, PrinceGeorge
What: CUPE members who work in northern schools and campuses are hosting the education forum (CUPE Locals 3742, 3799, 4951 and 4991).
CUPE BC President Mark Hancock will be available for media interviews.