In 2000, the Liberal government’s taxation policies shifted the burden of taxes from large corporations, businesses and the wealthy to the ever-shrinking middle class.
The corporate tax rate declined from 16.5 per cent to 10 per cent, while the proportion of taxes that average B.C. residents paid rose due to the HST, carbon tax, and users’ fees.
Under the guise of provincial deficits, the Liberals underfunded all their mandated responsibilities such as education, legal services, social programs and our medical system.
The Liberals had a particular distain for educators because of their political preferences and union orientation. Thus began the Liberals’ brutal 12-year war on education and teachers in particular.
The Liberals’ first salvo in their war on education occurred in 2000 when as a cost-cutting measure they changed the way education was funded. Using both its vast majority and its weapon of choice legislation, the Liberals abandoned block funding and instead adopted a “per student formula.” This resulted in hundreds of school closures throughout the provinces.
Rural and outlying areas were particularly devastated. In many cases, school closures caused unwanted divisions among parents, neighborhoods and towns. Perhaps the greatest casualty from the Liberals’ funding policy shift was that it created a permanent and systemic funding crisis in education.
The Liberals continued their assault on education by tearing up legal contracts because they were deemed too rich. Teachers’ contracts were arbitrarily gutted and class sizes were eliminated. Furthermore, the Liberals changed policies on how special needs students were identified, classified, supported and funded. Library and special needs services programs were simply decimated.
Courts later ruled that the Liberal government’s actions were unconstitutional. It was ironic that the Liberal government, who often accused teachers of being lawbreakers, were themselves refusing to obey our courts and our constitution.
The Liberals continued to wage war with teachers with the implementation of hostile policies that targeted teachers. The Liberals agreed to long-term contracts with teachers that included pay increases over many years but the government would later only honor a portion of the contract.
Bill 22 was designed to extinguish teachers’ constitutional right to collective bargaining and the right to protest government decisions with the threat of financial ruin. Furthermore, Bill 22 attempted to eliminate seniority and the right of due process in the discipline of teachers.
It should be noted that Canada’s education system has consistently been rated by foreigners as one of the world’s best. Despite the aforementioned fact, the Liberals are determined to destroy and demonize teachers because of their political views, voting patterns and philosophical orientations.
British Columbians are entitled to a quality of life that includes a vibrant public education system, a healthy medical system and other vital government services. A democratic society must strive to ensure a high quality of life for all its citizens and not just the wealthy. To the Liberal government I wish to say good-bye and good riddance.