Question Period: New Democrats urge Liberals to act on skills shortage

Question Period: New Democrats urge Liberals to act on skills shortage

VICTORIA – In Monday's Question Period, New Democrat leader Adrian Dix and advanced education critic Michelle Mungall urged the Liberal government to end their wasteful spending on pre-election advertising and take action to address B.C.'s skills shortage.

“This government's own labour market outlook makes it clear that access to higher education is more important than ever, with 80 per cent of new jobs requiring some level of post-secondary education,” said Mungall in the legislature. “We know that the skills gap will be a skills crisis by 2020, and yet the only program that this government is offering students to make education more affordable won't take effect until 2025.”

Dix and Mungall noted the only thing the Liberal budget offered students is an RESP program that won't help anyone until 2025. The program appears to be custom tailored to provide an opportunity for the Liberals to spend more tax dollars on partisan pre-election advertisements, rather than being aimed at actually helping ordinary British Columbians get access to the skills training they need today.

The Liberals have spent nearly $17 million of taxpayers' money on partisan pre-election advertisements, including the new $4 million campaign about to launch in the lead up to the election campaign. Plus, the Liberals are sinking $11 million into a pre-election Bollywood awards show designed more around photo ops than improving B.C.'s economy.

In contrast, Dix has tabled legislation that would end the Liberal's wasteful practice of spending tax dollars on partisan ads by mandating that all advertising be vetted by the Auditor General. This legislation would also ban all non-essential government advertising in the pre-election period.

New Democrats also presented a plan to make post-secondary education and skills training more accessible with a $100 million needs based non-repayable student grant program.

Also in question period Monday:

  • Tourism, culture and arts critic Spencer Chandra Herbert and Burnaby Edmonds MLA Raj Chouhan questioned why the B.C. Liberals support a first-time Bollywood awards show when British Columbia could have hosted the International Indian Film Academy Awards – known as the Bollywood Oscars. Chandra Herbert and Chouhan pressed the Liberals to admit they decided to go with a manufactured awards show so they could hold the event on the eve of the coming election, and asked to see the hosting agreement so British Columbians can know how their tax dollars are being spent.
  • Mining critic Doug Donaldson and labour critic Shane Simpson questioned why the B.C. Liberals allowed HD Mining to move from an exploration permit for the more common room-and-pillar technique of coal mining to a project that uses the long-wall mining technique – a move that meant the company would bring in 200 temporary foreign workers instead of supporting B.C. jobs. They asked the Liberal government to provide evidence that they are standing up for B.C. workers during the federal government's review of the temporary foreign worker program.

The B.C. Liberals are not up to the challenges facing British Columbians. Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.