Government secrecy, budget cuts and privatization - week one of the BC election

The BC Provincial Election is off and running - to nobody's surprise. There is something about having a fixed date for an election that robs it of the writ-dropping drama we are accustomed to. Could it also be that the Campbell Liberal government's taxpayer-funded advertising campaign that ran through the fall and into the spring with feel-good messages about government's agenda makes it seem as though we have already been in an election campaign for too long?

All three of the major parties have now released their election platforms, and all three contain statements about post-secondary education. The platforms address funding, tuition, student aid and other areas related to post-secondary education. FPSE has developed a short summary of the major platform elements for the parties and it is available on our website http://www.fpse.ca.

There is a lot at stake for educators and students in this election. Some issues will see the light of day, but other, very important issues will get left behind in the cut and thrust of a campaign. The first week of the campaign feature little coverage of the issues, including post-secondary education. FPSE highlighted the lack of transparency on the part of the BC Liberals who steadfastly refuse to disclose institutional budget and student enrolment documents. We know that institutions will be underfunded this year, with less than a one per cent increase in per student funding - well below inflation levels. The College of New Caledonia passed a budget that sees a range of cuts and faculty layoffs. The Vancouver Sun began a series on post-secondary education, highlighting enrolment problems at a number of post-secondary institutions.

One of the more interesting pieces this week was an editorial by Sara MacIntyre of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Ms. MacIntyre commends the Campbell Liberals for its privatization agenda. She states: "Of all the post-secondary education initiatives implemented by the Campbell government, the one that will have the biggest impact has received the least amount of attention. In 2002, the government passed the Degree Authorization Act and opened up post-secondary education to the private sector." (Cariboo Press, Monday April 25, 2005)

If you want more information about privatization, check out our issue sheet Privatizing post-secondary education.

If you have not yet voted for your favorite audio and video submissions to our Rock the Vote BC contest, head over to rockthevotebc.com. Voting ends at noon on April 30. If you have some issues you want raised in the campaign, get involved. Write letters to your local papers, attend all candidates meetings, and make use of the FPSE campaign post-card with questions for candidates, or sign on to work for a candidate.

Feel free to contact FPSE if you want more information or have an issue you would like us to raise.

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.