Tag Archives: Funding

Vancouver Teachers Advised of Possible Layoffs

News release from Mike Lombardi, Trustee, Vancouver Board of Education:

Vancouver, B.C. – (January 19, 2010) – Eight hundred teachers in the Vancouver school district will be receiving letters today advising them of possible layoffs and requesting they update their qualifications on file with the Vancouver School Board.

The letter is not a layoff notice – it is the beginning of the process to prepare for possible layoffs. The letters are being issued in accordance with the teachers’ collective agreement, which requires that notices of possible layoffs be issued by February 15 if the district is contemplating layoffs for the following school year.

Additionally, the collective agreement and arbitration award language requires the school district to gather and update teacher qualifications in advance of contemplated layoffs. The letters are being issued now because Human Resources requires time to collect, review and update the qualifications of teachers who received the letters.

Notices of potential layoffs are being given to all teachers with seniority levels of approximately five or fewer years of service. The letter has been jointly signed by the school district and presidents of the district’s two teachers’ associations – Vancouver Elementary Teachers Association and Vancouver Secondary Teachers Association.

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Vancouver School Board finance staff is currently forecasting an operating budget shortfall of $17.5 to $36.3 million for 2010-11, depending on provincial government funding decisions.

“The district has increased costs coming due to decisions made at the provincial level,” says Vancouver Board Chair Patti Bacchus. “We believe the provincial government has an obligation to fund those costs to ensure we are able to provide adequate staffing and resource levels to meet the needs of our students. We’ve already had to cut over $47 million in accumulated annual spending since the beginning of 2002/03 and further reductions will make it increasingly difficult to meet the learning needs of our students.”

No decision has been made about layoffs at this time. If teachers are to be laid off, notices will be issued the first week of May when school-by-school staff allocations for the 2010-11 school year are confirmed.

The last time the school district had to layoff teachers was in May 2004 for the 2004-05 school year.

– 30 –

For more information, contact:
Patti Bacchus, Board Chair – 604-250-1130 604-250-1130
David Weir, VSB communications manager – 604-713-5074

Minister Stockwell Day Visits Vancouver and brings “iPods” for All

Stockwell Day

Stockwell Day

Yesterday I attended a press conference hosted by the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, along with Vancouver Deputy Mayor George Chow. They brought a ragtag group of media sorts out to the Pan Pacific Hotel in order to announce that the federal government and the city of Vancouver are going to be spending $86 million on infrastructure upgrades in Vancouver and approximately $17.2 million of those dollars will be spent specifically on improvements to Stanley Park.

The media announcement started in the Pan Pacific Hotel with a stunning view of the North Shore Mountains and Stanley Park in the background. That is, a stunning view until the construction crew working below started a project that proceeded to release a continuous and massive cloud of steam that totally blocked the view out the window…

To read more of this story, you can visit my blog, the Political Junkie on the Vancouver Observer website. And trust me, you will want to read more of this amusing little story.

British Columbia Trucking Industry Facing Drastic Cuts to Training Programs

The following email was sent to the Premier Gordon Campbell and other cabinet members (and cc’ed) to us by Randy A. Eckert the President of Saferway Driver Training School Ltd.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Statistics Canada, Transport Canada, Canadian Trucking Alliance, British Columbia Trucking Association, Ontario Trucking Association, Private Motor Truck Council, Teamsters Canada, Unique Personnel Services Inc. are all on the same page with the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) Report.

However, the influential party NOT on the same page as those listed above, Premier Campbell and the BC Liberals. The concern? That the BC Liberals are moving the trucking industry backwards by implementing drastic cuts on British Columbia’s Employment Insurance (EI) Training Benefits.

I am requesting that immediate action be taken on the drastic cut on British Columbia’s Employment Insurance (EI) Training Benefits.

AMBER Education Services Ltd. Website in BOLD letters reads.

Please note:

Due to a recent update in the contract that Amber Education Services Ltd. holds with the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, the maximum tuition support is $4,000 per intervention or Return to Work Action Plan.

This is another blow to an already devastated Trucking Industry and the economy.

What do these cuts mean?

Drastic cut in training programs!

Training may be just enough to get a Class One (editor adds; that is a Driver’s License Class One that licenses a driver to drive virtually anything on our roads) student licensed!  They would not be industry ready, costs escalating to employers’ and the general public.

Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) summary report state; Driver Quality is a Key Issue in driver turnover, and demand

Additional training is needed for new entrants to the industry to improve their driving skills and performance on the job.

Almost 60% of the trucking industry’s employers say that today’s driver shortage is one of their top two concerns, up from the 50% who felt that way in 2002.

The driver shortage is widely described as a lack of “qualified” personnel.

Listed in the acknowledgments of Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council summary report is:

  • Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
  • Statistics Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Canadian Trucking Alliance
  • British Columbia Trucking Association
  • Ontario Trucking Association
  • Private Motor Truck Council
  • Teamsters Canada
  • Unique Personnel Services Inc.

BC Trucking Association (BCTA) states; The trucking industry is a major employer in its own right employing over 400,000 people directly and supporting several tens of thousands more. Current forecasts suggest the industry is facing a major shortage of qualified truck drivers and related occupations in the years ahead, making it an attractive place for existing and future workers looking for an interesting, well-paying and secure career. 

Public safety being jeopardized;  I have been qualified by The Supreme Court and Provincial Court of British Columbia as an expert witness and have also provided professional opinion reports to various agencies in regard to different traffic accidents.  Operator/Driver error was a major contributing factor as a cause of these incidents. 

Why is British Columbia going backwards compromising the economy and safety? 

I am available to discuss the issue on the drastic cuts to British Columbia’s Employment Insurance (EI) Training Benefits.  I am looking forward to an immediate response to this letter. 

Randy A. Eckert


Saferway Driver Training School Ltd. 905 – B Esquimalt Rd. Victoria, BC, V9A 3M7

Editor’s note; there has been no word, as of yet,  if the requested meeting has actually taken place as of yet. We will endeavour to keep our reader informed of any updates on this file. We will also be making our own inquiries to the government and the opposition New Democrats to see what more there is to this story.

Premier Campbell’s Climate Change Inaction

While speaking at a governors’ and premiers’ panel at the Climate Conference in Copenhagen yesterday, Gordon Campbell failed to explain the BC Liberals’ controversial environmental record. The controversial part? Consider the following aspects of the Campbell “green agenda”:

  • Campbell’s government has promoted the Gateway-Port Mann twinning project; a project that encourages more suburban sprawl and single-occupant vehicle usage while committing no significant dollars to the public transit system.
  • They have recently cancelled the LiveSmart BC, a program that assisted people in retro-fitting their homes with energy efficiencies.
  • They have cut tens of millions of dollars from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Action Secretariat.
  • The BC Liberal’s planned HST will add a new tax on bicycles and energy-efficient appliances.
  • The carbon tax monies collected by the BC Liberal government go into general revenue rather than being funneled into green initiatives.
  • The BC Liberals have been pushing the federal government to lift the 30-year moratorium on coastal oil drilling.

Add these factors all together and ask yourself, do these really sound like the actions of a government committed to a green economy? They certainly do not in my estimation.

BC Liberals Cut Skills Development Employment Benefits Program

At a time when you might think that the BC Liberals would be investing heavily in developing the skills of BC’s workforce, they have instead decided to cut skills training; the Skills Development Employment Benefits program was told to rein in spending on all retraining programs and to cap all tuition funding effective immediately.

“The SDEB program provides invaluable support for unemployed British Columbians on Employment Insurance to retrain so they can transition within the labour market,” said Nicholas Simons, a New Democrat critic for social development. “However, service providers were told late last week that the program is out of money, with no word of further funding. News of the funding cuts came late Friday afternoon, a time typically used by provincial governments to release news that they do not want publicized.

“By capping funding the B.C. Liberals are not only putting up major road blocks for unemployed British Columbians, but forcing those already in programs and without the financial means to quit mid-semester.”

Simons says New Democrat MLA offices across the province have been flooded with calls from distraught constituents who have either applied to or are currently in SDEB-funded programs.

“We’re hearing from people in every region of the province who say they will be greatly impacted by the major cuts to tuition funding,” said Simons, MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast.

“From laid-off forestry workers to care aides, these are all British Columbians who are trying their best to retrain within a changing labour market and to make ends meet during most difficult economic times.”

New Democrat MLAs across the province have been raising their concerns with Rich Coleman, the Minister responsible.

“In the North Island we know the real impact of changes in the forest industry and the hard side of the economic downturn,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island. “Now is the time we should be investing in people, not short-changing them like the BC Liberals are doing.”

“These cuts will impact tens of thousands of unemployed workers in the central interior, one of the regions with the highest unemployment rates in the province,” said Bob Simpson, MLA for Cariboo North.

“Our best resource is our people,” said Simons. “The BC Liberals must recognize that investing in British Columbians is paramount to moving towards a more stable economy.”

The BC Liberal Index, Fall 2009


Fall 2009

With apologies to HARPER’S

  • Amount consumers will have to fork over for the HST: $1.9 billion
  • Tourism jobs that will be lost due to the HST: 10,000
  • Restaurant industry jobs that will be lost due to the HST: 12,000
  • Number of HST-free Christmases left: 1, unless we stop the HST
  • Number of B.C. Liberals it would take to vote down the HST: 7
  • Cost of the HST for B.C. schools: almost $40 million
  • B.C. surgeries cancelled this year: between 9,860 and 15,500
  • Funding cut from Parent Advisory Councils on first day of school: $6.7 million
  • Number of full-time jobs lost in B.C. over the last year: 76,900
  • Amount B.C. Ferries CEO David Hahn makes each year: over $1,000,000
  • Number of trains B.C. Rail CEO Kevin Mahoney is paid $494,182 to manage: 0
  • Amount the B.C. Liberals spent on advertising for the LiveSmart program before the election: more than $7 million
  • Months after the election until the B.C. Liberals cancelled LiveSmart: 3
  • B.C. Liberals’ increase to maximum weekly online gambling limit: $120 to $9,999
  • Funding cut for gambling prevention programs: 34 per cent
  • Planned cut to arts funding next year: nearly 85 per cent
  • Jobs lost in the forest industry since the election: more than 1,500
  • Sockeye missing in 2009 from the Fraser River: 9 million
  • Escaped Atlantic salmon from B.C. open-net fish farms in 2009: 172,000
  • Years in a row the B.C. Liberals have had worst record in Canada on child poverty: 6
  • Cost of Olympic tickets purchased for B.C. Liberal MLAs and Crown corporations: nearly $2.4 million
  • Number of Special Olympics athletes that could have been supported for $2.4 million: 7,000

Figures cited are the latest available as of November 2009. “B.C. Liberal Index” is not a registered trademark.

B C G E U 0 7 0 1

Vancouver Opera on the cuts to BC arts

An email received from the Vancouver Opera about the BC Liberals’ cuts BC arts programs:

Dear Friends of the Arts,

You may have already received this email but it is imperative that we get this message out to as many supporters as possible. Please forward to family and friends.

As you know, the arts across British Columbia have suffered extreme funding cuts from the BC government.  While difficult to gauge exactly, the best reading of the situation tells us that potentially the arts will suffer an 85% – 90% cut over two years.  This is the result of extreme cuts to the British Columbia Arts Council as well as gaming fund cuts.

We must send a message to the government that these cuts are massive, destructive, out of proportion and unacceptable.  The government must hear from YOU:  consumers of culture, donors, and concerned citizens.

Please follow the link to send a clear message – easily!  Your message WILL BE SENT AUTOMATICALLY to Premier Gordon Campbell, Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development, Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance, and your MLA.

Speak Out About BC Arts Cuts | Alliance For Arts and Culture

We must have a groundswell of opposition to these drastic cuts in arts and culture funding; please do your part to preserve BC’s strong cultural and arts environment.

Many thanks.

2009-2010 Season

James W. Wright
General Director, Vancouver Opera

Fraser Health cancelling surgeries in favour of imported patients?

The other day we were sitting around the Editorial Board Table pondering the news that the BC Liberals underfunding of health-care in the Fraser Health region (or whatever they call it this week) was forcing the Fraser Health Authority to cancel “elective” surgeries and close operating rooms. The point made at our table was that this move was going to be very unpopular with the doctors who work in that region because cancelled surgeries equals a cut in the earnings of the province’s doctors. And one thing the BC Liberals appear to not want to do is piss off the doctors and nurses of this province. 

So we were wondering how these cutbacks to the doctors’ earnings were going to be managed by the provincial government. And then today the answer arrived; bring in out-of-province patients who need hip and knee replacement surgery. But these patients are from other provinces, patients who have their medical procedures paid for by outside agencies, like other provinces.

Health Minister Kevin Falcon has confirmed that BC is negotiating with other provinces to have 400 medical procedures brought to the idle BC operating rooms. This importing will keep the BC doctors’ pay flowing and possibly earn some revenue for the province. Great stuff for the doctors and the province, sucks to be you if you are a BC resident waiting for a hip or knee replacement.

Maybe that Saskatchewan program that was trying to get ex-pat Saskatchewan residents to move home can add another benefit to the advantages of living on the prairies…fast access to BC health-care services.

BC Liberals continue going for the taxpayers’ gold

In an effort to continue their quest for the gold, the gold of the BC taxpayer that is, the BC Liberals have purchased box suites at GM Place and the Pacific Coliseum for the use of MLAs and cabinet ministers during the 29010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The cost of these tickets is estimated to be $1 million. This at a time when the funding to BC School Sports is being cut and the Minister of Education is telling BC’s children to forget about organized sporting events, they should go play in the parks.