Pre-budget submission by CUPE BC calls on gov’t to restore funding for public services
BURNABY—The BC Liberal government’s decision to cut spending during the recession while cutting taxes at the same time was a political move that will not only hurt those who need public services most but also undermine the recovery of the economy, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
In a pre-budget submission to the British Columbia Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill gives the government a failing grade for cutting taxes while also cutting funds to school boards and to the post-secondary, library, child care and community social services sectors.
“The benefits tax cuts offer low and middle income people are nowhere near the value of the services they lose to pay for those tax cuts,” O’Neill says in his submission. “The services cut across sectors in British Columbia and are too valuable to lose. We believe they must be restored.”
O’Neill’s submission cites research demonstrating spin-off effects that spending cuts can have throughout the economy. Cuts of $1-2 billion, for example, would further depress the economy and cost the province between 18,000 and 35,000 jobs.
“The programs cut to give short-term financial relief will cause significant long-term harm that will be costly to all British Columbians,” says O’Neill, adding that the announced public sector wage freeze will damage the economy more than help it.
“Public sector wages buy groceries and cars. We shop in our downtowns. Thanks to this wage freeze, these merchants will see fewer public sector dollars,” he says.
CUPE BC represents approximately 80,000 workers. Roughly one third of them work in the school board and local government sectors, while nearly 14,000 CUPE members provide support services and work in classrooms as teaching assistants in the post-secondary sector. CUPE BC also represents paramedics and workers in libraries, community social services, boards and commissions, and transportation.