Suzanne Smythe and Shauna Butterwick have an insightful op-ed in The Vancouver Province today: “New adult-education fees will harm B.C. jobs plan.”
Government claim: We can’t afford to continue providing tuition-free basic education for adults.
Reality: The funding cuts announced in December will save the province $15.9 million per year. To say that $15.9 million cannot be found for basic education is simply not credible with a surplus of $900 million for 2014 and large surpluses for the next three years. The one-time reinstatement of $6.9 million as transition funding for 2015/16 is a short-term fix.
When the government introduced free tuition under the Education Guarantee in 2008, it was in recognition of its vital social and economic role. Enrolment increased dramatically, revealing strong demand. In a province with some of the highest levels of poverty and inequality in Canada, slamming the door on access to basic education is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. If the government is serious about better aligning “skills for jobs” in the province, it must start by making basic education tuition-free for all British Columbians who want to a better life.