NEW DEMOCRAT ADVANCED ED CRITIC HEARS LOCAL COMMUNITY CONCERNS
Prince George –New Democrat advanced education critic Michelle Mungall wants to see investment in apprenticeship and skills training programs in Prince George.
Over the last three weeks, Mungall has toured colleges and universities across the province. On Wednesday, she was in meetings with president George Iwama and others at the University of Northern B.C. and at the College of New Caledonia. Mungall notes that investment in post-secondary programs is lacking. “After talking with students at CNC and UNBC, it is clear that students are given the back seat in Christy Clark’s 'friends first' agenda,” she said.
Young British Columbians have been abandoned by the Liberal government. They eliminated student grants, dismantled a program aimed at helping former youth-in-care get a fair start, doubled tuition fees, and froze the minimum wage for 10 years. Now, students are saddled with large debts, and many others are put off by the obstacles they would face pursuing any educational opportunities at all.
“Communities like Prince George need to see action from the government. Currently there is a shortage of apprenticeship and skills training programs and now these colleges and universities have had their provincial funding frozen,” noted Mungall. “This is critical for Prince George. We need to ensure that the Liberals are taking steps prevent resource-based communities from suffering economically.”
The Liberal government's own reports suggest that close to 80 per cent of expected employment openings – new jobs and replacement positions – will require some post-secondary education, or a university degree.
“So far on the Premier's jobs plan tour, we have seen nothing to make education more affordable for B.C. students and in fact, there has been very little on any aspect of education and training which should be a key part of a jobs plan.
"The so-called jobs plan won’t help the many other important programs that are starved for funding now. Years of frozen post-secondary funding, cuts to apprenticeship training dollars and shrinking facilities grants leave students worried about their programs and administrators uncertain about how much more they can stretch dollars.
“The New Democrats, on the other hand, are proposing positive steps. At the beginning of this tour, Adrian Dix proposed the restoration of a needs-based grant plan that would aid struggling post-secondary students,” said Mungall. "The feedback from students on our ideas has been enthusiastic, and we look forward to continue working with them."