It is clear that BC Liberal strategy is to reward insiders and elites. That’s been shown in countless ways, particularly since Christy Clark took office as Premier in 2011. Shortly after her return to Victoria, a handful of senior civil servants departed with millions in severance rewards, paid even if the ex-employees crossed the street and immediately gained equally rewarding work elsewhere, as all did. More millions of dollars were paid as severance to senior Liberals following the 2013 election, including almost half a million to the manager who steered BC Place to a steady run of losses.
However, people outside the Liberal orbit do not get the same generous treatment. Beverley Maxwell had been director of certification for the B.C. College of Teachers and was terminated in 2012 when the province eliminated the College. Her contract required payment of severance but government chose not to pay. Ms. Maxwell went to Supreme Court and was awarded $312,545. Again, Government chose not to pay. Despite a very weak case, Government filed an appeal, which they lost earlier this month.
Beverley Maxwell was not a Liberal insider; she was a professional educator who had worked 16 years for the College of Teachers. Therefore, to get the payment she was due, Ms. Maxwell had to wait two years and spend tens of thousand of dollars on lawyers and court fees.
Of course, the main issue in recent days has been government’s refusal to negotiate or arbitrate with public school teachers, people who are clearly not insiders or elites. A Premier who sends her own child to an upscale private school seems not bothered that hundreds of thousands of children are out of class. The government that has twice had its efforts to legislate teachers’ working conditions declared unconstitutional is now threatening to try a third time, even though numerous legal opinions state they are offending the Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The official Liberal position is that educators are greedy and government has no additional money for schools. However, during recent years, budgets for post secondary institutions have kept ahead of inflation while budgets for elementary and secondary public schools have fallen behind, despite a greater load of special needs and ESL students. Instead of providing funds to deal with unique challenges, this government withholds assessment resources and pretends special needs students exist in fewer numbers than they do.
However, the Premier and her ministers have not had the same tight-fisted messages for private schools. Those operations have benefited from increased public funding. Here is a comparison of funding changes, showing public schools and select private schools.
Obviously, the individual schools here are ones that serve the province’s economic elites. Perhaps that explains the unequal treatment.