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B.C. Education Grant Obscures Bigger Underfunding Issues

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We have seen one broken promise after another from Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals. At this point no one believes that Clark ever had any intention of putting "families first," even though that was the platform she ran and won the last election on.

The fact that when you compare B.C. to other provinces we have the second highest child poverty rate, the lowest minimum wage, some of the highest cost of living, second lowest per-student funding, and we are the only province that charges MSP fees tells you exactly how much Clark values the families in this province.

At the same time Clark is still showing as having a 30 per cent approval rating. Although 30 per cent is certainly not a number any politician strives for, when you start adding up the cuts, scandals and missteps, many people are quite surprised she's managed to keep even that many supporters.

I would attribute it to the fact that Clark seems to operate with a Teflon-like quality -- no matter how big or ugly the scandal is, nothing ever sticks.

You also have to admit that when you have unlimited access to public tax money to feed into commercials and advertisements, it's a lot easier to control the public opinion.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that more people are aware of the $1,200 education grant the Liberals are handing out than about the millions of dollars they are cutting from public education this year.

$1,200 isn't a generous offer when you've robbed those same children of a good-quality education their whole life with constant funding cuts.

Judging from the never-ending and widespread campaign regarding the grant, I also wouldn't be surprised if the Liberals are spending more on advertising the grant then they are spending on the actual program itself.

This begs the question of who these ads are really targeted to -- the parents who have children that could benefit from the program or the voter base in general, in order to give the appearance of a government willing to help children and students?

Other provinces, like Newfoundland are taking steps towards abolishing student loans and instead offering non-repayable grants, a big step that will have a very positive impact on students. They aren't spending millions on advertising the plan, but instead are spending millions on implementing the plan, putting their money where their mouths are.

Here in B.C. our students (if they even qualify) will get $1,200. Depending on the program, this might get you one year of textbooks, hardly a progressive move by any means. But our government is using this grant to try and gain support, and they are spending public tax money to push these ads on TV, radio, Internet, newspapers and other media.

Which is more believable: that the funding formula is failing or that every board in B.C. just simply doesn't know how to manage money?

I like to think of it like someone coming into your yard and stealing your entire apple tree, then coming to your door later with a big smile and offering you a small branch with a few apples. $1,200 isn't a generous offer when you've robbed those same children of a good-quality education their whole life with constant funding cuts, school closures and overcrowded classrooms -- just as a few apples is not a generous offer when you've stolen the whole tree.

In fairness we are talking about the same government that refused to negotiate with B.C. teachers for months and instead spent millions of dollars on parent bribes, attack ads against the teachers and "digital influencers" to help perpetrate the Liberal agenda online.

When they finally did come to an agreement, Clark and Fassbender smiled big for the cameras announcing in true Liberal "hero" fashion that they had saved the day and restored our children's education.

They failed to mention that they wouldn't actually be paying for these increases in wages. Instead they would simply download these costs onto already cash-strapped school boards -- along with the other operational costs that rise every year like hydro, MSP, Internet, etc. that they have been expecting the boards to manage with no funding increases for years.

Just to rub more salt in the wound, the Liberal government also demands that boards make further cuts this year, despite an increase in enrollment.

Boards all across the province are facing devastating cuts this year, yet the B.C. Liberals would like you to believe that there are no funding issues. I'm sure they also want you to believe that parents just fundraise $30,000 for their school every year for fun.

Which is more believable: that the funding formula is failing or that every board in B.C. just simply doesn't know how to manage money?

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