Tuesday, January 05, 2010

We're number one, we're number one

It's now 2010 and the Olympics are nigh. Kudos & Kvetches in The Vancouver Courier posted the following back in November and it's taken me until now to post it here, but hey, at least I'm finally doing it:

As the province speeds headlong towards the 2010 Winter Olympics like a greased-up two-man luge, K&K is happy to report B.C.’s sacrifices, determination and winning attitude have started to pay off. According to the 2009 Child Poverty Report Card released Monday by First Call, a national child-advocacy group, B.C. has the highest child poverty rate in the country… for the sixth year in a row. In your face, Nunavat!

Of course, it’s not easy maintaining such consistent results, especially when B.C. is one of the most affluent provinces in the country, led by a government who voted to give its top 100 bureaucrats hefty wage increases last year, including Premier Gordon Campbell’s deputy minister, Jessica McDonald, who received a 43 per cent raise, pushing her salary from a paltry $243,936 to a more civilized $348,600. And let’s not forget that just two years prior, MLAs voted to give themselves a 29 per cent wage hike, and the premier a 54 per cent raise.

So how has B.C. managed to own the child poverty podium, despite such huge obstacles? Let’s start by giving a big shout out to the 156,000 kids around the province living in poverty. Without their sacrifice and dwindling resources thanks to constant cuts to social programs, B.C.’s dream of having the highest child poverty in the country would be just that… a silly dream. In short, their lack of options and poor diet make us stronger. Thank you, poor kids.

And let’s not forget the province’s steadfast refusal to increase the minimum wage, which was once the highest in the country but now secures the bottom spot, sitting at $8 an hour since 2001, to say nothing of the generous $6 “training wage” the B.C. Liberals introduced, presumably to dampen the sticker shock a princely sum like $8 an hour can cause.

Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a recent article in the Georgia Straight that pointed out that B.C. Liberals—while slashing funding for mental health services, support for arts and culture and children’s sports—have shelled out nearly $1.5 million for 2010 Olympic tickets purchased by Crown corporations B.C. Hydro, ICBC and the B.C. Lottery Corporation, all at the expense of taxpayers. And “many of the tickets, including those for luxury suites in B.C. Place, GM Place and the Pacific Coliseum to watch coveted hockey and skating events, were for B.C. Liberal MLAs and cabinet ministers for the purposes of ‘Olympic community engagement and leveraging.’”

Then there’s the recently completed Vancouver Convention Centre, which was originally budgeted at $495 million, but ended up costing $883 million.

But the B.C. Liberals can’t take all the credit for the province’s gold medal performance in child poverty. Carole James and the NDP, despite initial protests, eventually accepted their “outrageous” 29 per cent wage hikes a few years back and have squandered every opportunity to defeat the government by putting its energy into opposing what it thinks are hot button issues such as gasoline taxes and now the HST.

Then, of course, there’s you, the majority of B.C. voters, who have either continually supported the government on its winning path of achieving the highest child poverty rate in the country for the past six years, or don’t bother voting at all. So take a moment and pat yourselves on the back. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Here's a link to the original post.

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