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BC gov't calls 2016 'banner' year for education, critics disagree

Last Updated Dec 28, 2016 at 9:14 pm PST

(iStock Photo)

Victoria says it's spending $1 billion on capital projects and seismic upgrades

No mention of firing the Vancouver School Board in open letter

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The provincial government is describing 2016 as a “banner” year for BC’s education and students.

In an open letter, Education Minister Mike Bernier claims $1 billion is being spent on capital projects and seismic upgrades. “We’ve invested in new schools, additions, and seismic mitigations to make sure we have safe spaces to deliver our world-class education programs.”

But there’s a big piece missing — last month’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, which will compel the province to spend in the range of an additional $300 million per year on education in the future gets absolutely no mention in the letter.

“This is a government that is so arrogant, so out of touch with British Columbians,” says NDP Education Critic Rob Fleming. “This government has wasted tens of millions of dollars on courtroom battles rather than building a culture of respect for the teaching profession and parents.”

Another point Bernier highlights is the province’s 84 per cent graduation rate — but with critics accusing the province of going cheap on education, some might ask if that figure could be even higher. “Well, I think 2016 is going to go down as a disastrous and divisive year where literally tens of thousands of parents in every region of British Columbia turned out to stop the BC Liberals from closing more schools in their communities.”

Also left out of the letter was the education minister’s firing of the entire Vancouver School Board.