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NBPEA: 'Community college education is quality education'

NBPEA 2nd Vice President Victor Stanton's presentation to New Brunswick's 'pre-budget consultations' held by Finance Minister Volpé.

Thursday evening, February 12th, during the “pre-budget consultations” in Woodstock, NBPEA 2nd Vice President Victor Stanton presented the following brief to Finance Minister Volpé.

Good evening Mr. Volpé,

My name is Victor Stanton and I am a Vice President and member of the Executive Committee of the New Brunswick Public Employees Association. I am one of the sixty five thousand people who work for the province of New Brunswick. I am a Community College Instructor.

New Brunswick has a twin-engine economy.

One engine of economy is the private sector. The other is the public sector. NBPEA believes the economy does best when both sectors are in sync and are running at peak performance.

The public and private sector working together make a sum greater than their separate parts. That’s the lesson history teaches us.

Public service workers work hard at doing things we all value – and we all know it. Therefore, whatever problems there is with government delivery of public services, it is not, at root, a problem created by the workers themselves.

The value we place on our public services is, for us, a measure of the value we place on being New Brunswickers. The more we devalue and downgrade public services in this province, the more the New Brunswick we know and love, starts to fall apart.

Cutting wages hurts public service workers immediately. It hurts the general public when the quality of services runs down because skilled workers leave for better paying jobs. Cutting corners hurts the public because the quality of service and often of safety drops.

Look what happened in Ontario. Mike Harris promised the people there a so-called Common Sense Revolution that would make their government more cost-efficient. But what he delivered as premier turned out to be long on revolution and short on common sense. Do we want a “Walkerton” in New Brunswick? Do we want more examples of “toast from Toronto” for our hospitals?

One of the suggestions made to you during these hearings has been to privatize the community colleges. We have seen the effect of such privatization. Whereas community college students pay $2400 per year for quality education, students attending private colleges pay upwards of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. The quality standards that govern the community college programs are not applied in many private facilities and students who attend private colleges will tell you there is often an inconsistency in the calibre of instruction. This is not what we want for our college education programs in New Brunswick. The people who work in this building are dedicated to a quality product – the same as the other public servants in New Brunswick.

The privatization agenda has two components: reduced service AND reduced values.

Just think if our health system was completely run by corporations. We would have shiny new hospitals with the latest in technology and skilled staff, but very few would be able to afford to get into them. Instead, the vast majority of people would be reduced to second and third class care without access to the top specialists because they would only be available in the expensive, user-pay facilities. Is that what we want for New Brunswick?

For the New Brunswick Coalition of Unions/NBPEA, the bottom line is that Public service = quality service.