In an ideal world, it would be wonderful to give the teachers a 15 per cent pay raise along with all of the other improvements they’re suggesting. But, the fact is that the key ingredient for all this is money, and if there is one thing that is certain with regard to the global economy these days, it’s that the future is more uncertain than ever. I’m sure many of us would like a new car, but we don’t know if we’ll have jobs next year so, we choose exercise our better judgement and postpone that purchase until the future appears more certain. I hope the province will continue to exercise the same level of fiscal restraint for now.
There are two ways that governments can increase revenues; the most obvious of which is to raise taxes, and given the recent “success” of the anti-HST movement, it would be safe to assume that the majority in B.C. are not in favour of that option. Incidentally, I wonder which position the BCTF took on that referendum.
The second method available is to take on more debt than we can afford to service. One needs to look no further than the US for an example of the effectiveness of that strategy, but Greece is another example of a country that has travelled a little further down that path.
There is, or at least there was a third option and that is to create a favourable environment that attracts outside corporate investment which grows the economy which in turn creates more jobs and keeps tax increases to a minimum while making it affordable to maintain or expand public services. The City of Langford is a good local example of this strategy, and this is what the province was hoping to achieve with the introduction of the HST, which would have made B.C.’s corporate tax rates among the most favourable within the G7 nations.
Since these strategies are not available at this time, the only way to implement the BCTF’s improved education strategy is to make cuts to other publically funded programs. Where shall we start …health care? The fact that education and health care comprise 69 per cent of the province’s annual budget suggests there really is no other choice.