Few make the connection between preserving and sustaining our global environmental commons and growing our common wealth. The only way we can sustainably improve the standard of living for all is by expanding the collective public goods and services that we share, instead of through profit-driven production.
It's an all-too-regular occurrence in this province. Government employees, whipped up by their union leaders, marching against whatever economic development opportunity is being proposed. Pipelines to the coast? Opposed. Gas exploration? Opposed. Companies creating investment revenue for pensions? Opposed. New mine? Opposed. Coal exports? Opposed. But what if government employees had a direct financial stake in the economy doing better than expected? Would they be more willing to consider ways to grow the economy? It's an interesting premise, and one the B.C. government will test in the next round of collective bargaining.
When Canada's premiers meet for the annual Council of the Federation this week, the future of health care is a critical item on the agenda. The role of a premier is to stand up to federal government bullying on behalf of all Canadians. We are asking them to send a strong message to the Harper Conservative Government: Get back to the table and get back on board to support public health care for all in Canada.
There are 3.6-million public sector workers in Canada and 74.5 per cent of those are unionized. One of the most powerful and vocal unions in the country is the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Their opposition to a new Fraser Institute study is both misinformed and worse, based largely on fiery rhetoric and name-calling.
Some unions have engaged in strike action that has closed schools, restricted learning for students and created an unstable learning environment. It has been stressful and chaotic for many students and parents. Then those same union leaders asked the government not to move ahead with collective agreements, yet they had no other solutions to offer -- except more disruption. That's why, on my advice, the Lieutenant Governor in Council has put in place collective agreements for all school boards and unions that were unable to deliver ratified and approved collective agreements by the deadline.