B.C. Liberals must commit to returning school shut-down “savings” to public education

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VANCOUVER – The New Democrats are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to commit to putting the $178 million “saved” during the school shut down back into the public education system.

“The B.C. Liberals’ failure to get a deal with teachers escalated into an unprecedented disruption and Premier Clark should not treat that money as a windfall,” said New Democrat spokesperson for education Rob Fleming.

“Those are parents’ tax dollars and should go back into helping children in classrooms.”

Fleming noted that the Liberal government has only committed to returning 20 per cent of the fund to public education.

“One hundred per cent of this money should be going back into public education,” said Fleming. “It’s unacceptable that the Liberals are already scheming up ways to spend it while the dispute goes unresolved.”

Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong recently raised the prospect that schools could remain behind picket lines until October.

Fleming noted that the B.C. Supreme Court found in January 2014 that the B.C. Liberals previously used confrontation and provocation as a bad faith bargaining tactic to deliberately provoke a strike in 2012. In 2014, the government oversaw more than 500,000 kids losing more than two weeks of instruction that caused chaos for families and students across our province.

“We want to see kids back in classrooms on Sept. 2,” said Fleming. “And we want to see that the money earmarked for public education goes to public education, where it is desperately needed by students and their teachers.”