Consolidation of post-secondary responsibilities the right move in Cabinet announcement

BC's new Premier has decided to scrap the changes made in the fall of 2010 when the responsibilities for post-secondary education were split between two Cabinet Ministers. At the time those changes were made, FPSE questioned the value for dividing what should be one Ministry into two. Not only did the change create the potential for confusion and conflict, we noted at the time that splitting the responsibilities between two Ministers would also lead to possible duplication and likely a misallocation of resources.

Fortunately, with today's announcement of a new Cabinet, it appears that consolidation rather than fragmentation is the guiding principle. That will be good news for our institutions and our members.

The new Minister, Hon. Naomi Yamamoto, has had some experience in previous Cabinets as a Minister of State. The change to a senior Cabinet portfolio will be a major step forward and FPSE plans to meet with the Minister as soon as possible to ensure that we begin to build a constructive relationship that can address some of the system-wide issues that we want to see her government address.

We are disappointed, however, to see that responsibility for the Industry Training Authority (ITA) has been moved to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. The ITA relies on public post-secondary institutions to deliver over 90% of trades training programs in BC. When the ITA was previously reporting to a non-post-secondary education Minister-that was the case from 2003 to 2008-there were disconnects between ITA and our public institutions. A report by the Auditor General's Office had been critical of the ITA and had recommended that it report to the Minister of Advanced Education. That change was made in June 2008. Today's announcement reverses that and we will be meeting with the Minister in charge of ITA, Hon. Pat Bell, to detail our concerns.

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.