More than three years after the end of the recession and Albertas provincial government continues to struggle with deficits, which as of the last quarterly update could reach $3 billion. Relying on revenues to rebound enough to catch up with spending just doesnt work as Albertas own history aptly demonstrates. Similarly, municipalities across the province continue to struggle to find sufficient resources for infrastructure needs while balancing their books.
Around Labour Day, a plethora of news stories focus on the state of unions, and often, their interaction with business. Given the name of the holiday, the attention is understandable.
However, the focus on unions and corporations, especially where governments are involved to set policy and create legislation, often misses two other critical groups: consumers and taxpayers.
It is those two cohorts that are often overlooked and whose interests are damaged when governments assume, on purpose or by accident, that only the interests of organized labour and business matter.
As we approach what would have been the 100th birthday of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, I am reminded of his common sense thinking. There is no such thing as a free lunch, he once famously remarked. The same could be said of Premier Christy Clarks Family Day, the statutory holiday that will come into effect just a few months before British Columbians go to the polls in 2013. Someone will have to foot bill. And unfortunately, it will be the very people the holiday is supposed to help: ordinary BC families.
Imagine a world where your car insurance company charges everybody the same premium; the premium doesnt depend on your driving record or the number of claims you make. Nor does the premium depend on your age or other characteristics that increase your risk of getting into an accident.
Such a system seems absurd because it benefits bad drivers at the expense of good drivers. But this is exactly how Canadas employment insurance (EI) program operates.
Its a classic labour relations standoff that stems from attitudes deeply imbedded in human nature and driving the almost universal belief that ones work is not valued properly.
With Labour Day just around the corner and British Columbia's unemployment rate at 7.3 per cent, Premier Christy Clark's promise of a jobs agenda is welcome news. Unfortunately, her actions haven't backed up her words.
Given the current fiscal climate -- the BC government's significant deficit ($1.4 billion over the next two years) -- and comparisons with the income of average BC families, now is hardly the time for BC teachers to be asking for more. Rather than give to the demands of the BC Teachers Federation, Premier Christy Clark should ensure the next collective agreement ties teacher pay to performance.