Letter: Taxpayers deserve money refunded for teachers strike

Dear Editor,

Time to Refund Taxpayers for School Dispute

It’s happened to all of us at some point. You go to a store, pre-order something, pay for the purchase, and wait for it to arrive.

But what happens when the order never comes in? What if you don’t get what you paid for?

The remedy is simple: you demand a refund.

This summer, British Columbians have been put in that exact situation, thanks to the ongoing labour dispute between the provincial government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

Taxpayers paid more than $200 million in taxes for educational services which were not delivered in June. Therefore, we should get a refund.

The teachers’ dispute started with three weeks of rotating strikes, which saved government $18.5 million per week. When they went to a full strike, the savings grew to $80 million for each of the last two weeks of June.

More has been saved with the cancellation of summer school.

Government has a responsibility to refund that money, at least $200 million, to the people who paid for the educational service but didn’t receive it.

That works out to roughly $40 for every man, woman, and child in B.C. For a family of four, that would be $160 – certainly a welcome amount for households that burned through vacation days or had to hire unexpected childcare during the strike.

When the Canadian Taxpayers Federation first suggested a refund, the BCTF’s social media horde lashed back, claiming that the money “belonged” to education.

But tax dollars actually belong to taxpayers – not to government, not to “the system,” and certainly not to labour unions.

Refunding this money would be a great way to support local communities. Taxpayers would have a few extra dollars to put into their local economies, rather than seeing it languish in Victoria.

More importantly, it would also keep up the pressure on the provincial government that comes with fiscal restraint. The last thing taxpayers should want to see after this protracted labour disruption is the government buckling to the BCTF’s demands and rewarding teachers for striking by handing them the $200 million.

The BCTF believes itself to be a “social movement,” which makes it virtually impossible to negotiate a deal with.

While each and every other government union has settled two or three reasonable contracts with the province over the past six years, the BCTF has engaged in bitter personal attacks and strayed far beyond a mandate to promote education, instead fighting every major economic development in the province.

For those who believe public education is underfunded in B.C., they could take their $40 refund cheque and donate it to a local school district foundation.

Others could use the money how they see fit.

Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender have been suspiciously tight-lipped about how the strike savings will be spent.

If you believe that money should be refunded to taxpayers, please sign the petition at www.taxpayer.com.

Jordan Bateman, Langley (B.C. Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation)

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