I am a constituent of yours and a taxpayer in Mission, BC. I am also a BC certified teacher. I hold a masters degree in Special Education, and I am trained and qualified to teach students who are deaf, and/or blind. I have thirty five years of experience teaching children with special needs of all types, as well as more 'typical' kids.
I would like to tell you some very specific true stories about how your government's behaviour has affected British Columbia children and parents, but I don't believe you are interested. I don't believe you want to know, or care, that an intelligent, hard working child I worked with, born with a neurodegenerative disease that makes him weaker and more fragile every year until what will be an early death, had his Dependent Handicapped category support removed in grade ten and changed to Chronic Health, at half the funding. I don't believe you especially care about the fifteen year old who tried to slash his own wrists, after losing five family members in two years. It took a month to get him any services even though he was classified as high risk. In my school of fifteen hundred students, we only have three counsellors, so there was very little they could do.
I could go on about all of these kids, whom I see daily, and who desperately need a government that cares about them enough to provide systems and support, but the message your government has consistently sent has been that you don't care.
So let's talk about the latest malevolent attempt to manipulate public opinion by bribing parents of some children with $40 a day. Clearly, this is money that is 'saved' in the education system by not paying teachers, while we are out in the streets fighting for a decent public education system. This is money that could, along with all the other money retained off the backs of teachers' salaries, have gone towards repairing the extensive damage to British Columbia schools. Instead, your government chose to give it away to parents who might or might not need it. Your government arbitrarily decided that it might, 'help with daycare' and appease those parents so that you could continue to ignore the just fight that teachers are engaged in, to call you to account for your illegal actions and your decimation of the public education system. At no point, could your government have considered that graduating and senior students in the province, expected to write Provincial exams in February for their semestered senior courses, might be in even more desperate need than the younger children. At no point could your government have considered that children with special needs over thirteen are actually *harder* to get daycare for, or that with nothing to do all day, young teens might find themselves in unfortunate circumstances. And you certainly couldn't have thought through the fact that there are already very, very few daycare spaces available in the province, because BC has no universal daycare program and does not foster the opening of such facilities. Forty dollars is little help with daycare if nobody will take your child. I know you can't have considered these possibilities, because, having considered them, no rational mind would have chosen the course of action that you did.
Your colleague, Mr. Simon, tried to explain to me that the refusal to address the critical need in our schools is due to lack of money. British Columbia has the lowest corporate tax rate in the country, and one of the lowest in the world. I suggest that might be a source of money, as it was back when our schools were properly funded. We know from countless studies that trickle down economics do not work, so how about you do the work government is elected to do, which is redistributing some of the province's wealth to ensure that the social well being is maintained? For every dollar you save on the education of young children, you will later spend seven or eight on incarceration. Yet you continue to decimate our education system.
This government ran on the slogan, "Families First". That slogan has been thoroughly ridiculed both privately and publicly, so I will restrain myself. I do, however, wonder, as I do whenever I see so great a chasm between word and deed, what truly motivates the individuals concerned. It has never been the words, rather, the deeds, that answer that question.
Families First, indeed.