The BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released its analysis of the B.C. NDP's first full provincial budget and financial plan – a budget with a noticeable change of tone from the previous government.
After 16 years of austerity and retrenchment under the B.C. Liberals, the new government has laid important pathways for the introduction of expansive new strategies and programs to come. In particular, significant commitments to child care and housing affordability will have positive benefits for our members and for all British Columbians.
These spending increases are concentrated in areas where the BCGEU has long been advocating for investments, improvements and restored funding. Expenditures highlighted in the budget include $15 million to increase the number of court sheriffs and increase staffing of the Court Services Branch to address court delays.
In addition, Corrections will see a small increase of $2.5 million in 2018/19, an amount that is unfortunately not adequate to address the escalating violence in B.C.'s correctional centres. Outside of this nominal increase to Corrections, there was nothing in the budget to address the dangerous staff-to-inmate ratios, overcrowding and escalating violence in B.C.'s jails, or the challenges faced by staff in community corrections. Your component will continue to bring these concerns to the ministers. In addition, your union will be launching phase two of the Prison Violence campaign to pressure the government to act.
Your component knows how important the issues of recruitment and retention are in Corrections and Sheriffs Services. Closing the pay gap between our ministries, federal corrections and police agencies is the best way to address this.
Component 1 Vice President Dean Purdy and your component executive continues to raise the important issues of wages and retention and, after a series of meetings with both the Minister of Public Safety and the Attorney General, we feel confident that our new government is listening and that this important issue will be resolved.
Budget 2018 is not perfect – this analysis identifies where progress has been made, and where greater investment is still needed. However, the budget is bold, well-measured and conscientious in what it offers British Columbians, and we congratulate the government on this impressive effort to make our province a more affordable, equitable and healthy society for everyone.
Read the analysis here: B.C. Budget Analysis 2018/19
Read the BCGEU's media release from February 20: BC Budget provides path to affordability and quality public services
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