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VANCOUVER— New Democrat leader Adrian Dix is calling on the Liberals to immediately fix the Pacific Carbon Trust and end the Liberal practice of taking money from schools and hospitals and using it to subsidize big polluters like Encana.

“The Liberals need to immediately scrap their policy of funneling scarce healthcare and education dollars into private sector projects and start using the Pacific Carbon Trust to lower the carbon footprint of schools and hospitals,” said Dix. “Instead of using limited health and education resources to subsidize big polluters, we should be creating jobs and protecting the environment by reinvesting our public resources in greening our classrooms and emergency rooms.”

Last year the Liberals forced the public sector to send more than $18.2 million to the Pacific Carbon Trust, which then used those resources to fund private sector projects. New Democrats have repeatedly pointed out that it is ludicrous to force the public sector, which is responsible for less than one per cent of greenhouse gases emitted in the province, to subsidize big polluters who pay no penalty for the majority of their greenhouse gas emissions.

New Democrats note the Liberal policy cost the Surrey school district $497,000, the Vancouver school district $406,000, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority $1.15 million, and UBC $1.52 million last year. Meanwhile the Liberals sent an estimated $2 million, which was collected from schools and hospitals, to Encana, an oil and gas company with deep ties to Premier Christy Clark's transition advisor, Gywn Morgan.

“The net result of the Liberals’ carbon trust shell game is that year after year money gets drained from classrooms and emergency rooms without any resulting efficiency gains while big polluters like Encana get a free ride funded by our healthcare and education systems,” said New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming. “New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to take immediate action to create green jobs and incentivize environmental excellence by reinvesting in projects which actually lower the carbon footprint of our public sector.”

A letter released today by the president of the B.C. School Trustee’s Association, Michael McEvoy, confirms that school districts want the Liberal government to take immediate action to end the policy of funding private sector projects using money earmarked for classrooms.

“Removing these monies from classrooms, and redirecting them to private sector entities such as Encana, directly affects our ability to meet both our educational and environmental goals,” said McEvoy in a letter to the education minister. “You can appreciate, then, that as our summer upgrade projects wind down, it continues to be an extreme source of frustration to watch over $4 million in funds that the public invested in public education make their way to the private sector.”

New Democrat education critic Robin Austin noted that what the New Democrats are calling for is in line with a unanimous resolution passed by the BCSTA – which supported the principle of incentivizing energy efficiency as long as funds paid by boards be used for projects aimed at reducing emission levels within school districts.

“School districts are currently being forced to cut money from classrooms to pay for the Liberals' failure to take action on improving the energy efficiency of public school buildings. To add insult to injury, they are also being taxed to use the computer program which calculates how much money they need to send to the private sector to pay for the Liberals' failings,” said Austin.

“New Democrats are calling on the Liberals to use the Pacific Carbon Trust to reduce the carbon footprint of our schools and hospitals instead of giving handouts to big polluters like Encana.”

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have an environmental plan that would reinvest in transit and climate change initiatives, create green jobs, and offer legislated protection for species at risk.