Budget 2006 won't meet 'Great Goals' in post-secondary

"Premier Campbell wants BC to be 'the most literate and best educated' in Canada, but his 2006 Budget falls well-short of funding those goals," said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) which represents over 10,000 faculty and staff in BC's post-secondary education system.

"BC's public post-secondary system needs at least $200 million more in funding just to bring the system back to where it was in 2001. The budget increase in this year is only half that amount--about $105 million," said Oliver.

Cindy Oliver interviewed by CBC TV at Tuesday's budget lockup

For the first time in four years the government is starting to invest in trades training, but the initial investments raise serious questions about whether the increases are enough to make a real difference. Moreover, there is no indication in the budget documents that the new training money will be spent in the public system where our training capacity has been most effectively developed. We know that the real challenge is reversing the drop in completion rates in apprentice training and achieving that goal will take considerably more money than has been allocated today," Oliver added.

"The proposed employer tax credit program for training is the wrong place to spend public dollars. If BC is going to seriously address the skills shortage, we need to increase the number of funded seats in the public post-secondary system, not create a subsidy for business in the form of a tax credit," Oliver said.

"The most disturbing part of this budget for post-secondary education is the absence of any help for students. It's distressing to see no meaningful improvements in student financial assistance even though we have seen student debt skyrocket with a doubling and tripling of tuition fees," said Oliver.

"There's no question that BC can well-afford to invest more in post-secondary education. Low-balling revenue estimates combined with bloated forecast allowances have been used to justify spending less on critical public services like post-secondary education. Our province deserves better," Oliver concluded.

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For more information, please contact:
Phillip Legg
FPSE Communications
(604) 788-2877
e-mail: plegg@fpse.ca

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.