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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 6, April 2005

Liberals target women and children

by Jane Turner

Don’t believe the Liberal Party ads you are seeing on TV as the election nears. Things are not rosy in Lotus Land. According to the evidence, women and children are getting roasted in Gordon Campbell’s British Columbia.

At the 2005 Annual General Meeting of the BCTF, the Status of Women Social Justice Action Group gave a presentation detailing the litany of cuts brought to bear on women and children by Gordon Campbell’s Liberals. The cuts affecting any single sector of our society are bad enough, but the package of cuts becomes the Liberal version of a tsunami—devastating and overwhelming.

The following are just some of the facts contained in the Status of Women Action Groups’ PowerPoint presentation sent to local presidents. The cuts will affect mostly women, children, and immigrants, many of whom are part-time workers.

• $860 million has been cut from social services.

• Despite inheriting a $1.3 billion surplus, medical premiums were increased by 50% or $494 million dollars.

• Of the over 20,000 public-sector jobs cut since 2001, 75% were held by women.

• Employees are now paid for statutory holidays only if they have worked 15 of the last 30 calendar days.

• If employees want to lodge a complaint under the Employment Standards Act they only have access to an English-language, self-help kit. Once a complaint has been made, there is no obligation on the part of the government to investigate.

• The Human Rights Commission has been abolished. Human rights are no longer a matter for civil society; they are only a matter between individuals.

• Women with children over the age of three do not qualify for social assistance, but $24 million was cut from daycare spending and a $7-a-day cap for before- and after-school care was eliminated. While the $24 million has now been restored to daycares, those centres that lost the funding have closed and often, licensed daycare is no longer available.

• 4,000 beds in residential care facilities have been closed.

• An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 seniors no longer qualify for government assisted elder care facilities.

• All government core and operational funding for women’s centres was cut in 2004.

• Legal aid was cut by 40%, most of the cuts coming from family, immigration, and civil law. Criminal law, mostly accessed by men, was only reduced by 10%. Now a woman who is abused by her spouse doesn’t qualify for legal aid, but her spouse, the abuser, does.

• Post-secondary tuition fees are up 67%, and education grants have been eliminated.

The conclusion of the report states, "Last year, the government claimed a surplus of $865 million. This surplus was achieved on the backs of the middle class and the poor." The title of the presentation says it all: "The damage has been done."

All local association offices received a copy of this PowerPoint presentation. To see the full text, ask your local president for "The damage has been done." It’s well worth watching.

Jane Turner is an assistant director, BCTF’s Professional and Social Issues Division.

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