The recent teachers’ strike has provided British Columbians with the opportunity to reflect on the kind of society we want to live in.
Questions raised in that debate, such as why our exceedingly rich province has the worst teacher to student ratio and second worst per-student funding in Canada, lead to further questions: Why do we have the highest health care premiums, the second-lowest arts funding, and a largely unstaffed provincial park system?
The simple fact is that poorer provinces than ours provide far more affordable and better-supported services than B.C. does.
While wealthy British Columbians, of whom there are many, may be able to opt out of our under-funded public services through private schools, private health care, and private hobbies, where does this leave middle and lower-income earners?
For those of us whose values were formed in other parts of our country, where people still believe that we are our brother’s keeper and that basic rights are for all Canadians and not just for those who can afford them, no expanse of beauty, no amount of temperate weather, can make up for the shocking inequalities that have come to characterize our increasingly Americanized province.
While the teachers’ strike may be over, the fundamental issues remain.
As citizens we must investigate these issues in a more comprehensive manner and must press our political leaders for adequate responses — responses which should be remembered during the next provincial election.
Andrea Harwood Jones