BC budget consultation season rolls around again

It’s BC budget consultation season once again. To provide input to BC’s Select Standing Committee on Finance, please go to this link. The deadline for all input is Monday, October 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m

This year, I’m submitting the following:

To the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance,

I appreciate the opportunity to provide input on the spending priorities for the 2019 BC budget. I am mostly concerned about the connection between education and poverty. Our provincial anti-poverty strategy must include seamless and free access to provincially articulated Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses. I applaud the removal of tuition fees for ABE. However, in Vancouver, did you know that ABE students are still responsible for up to $600/year for college fees and the UPass? The province’s Adult Upgrading Grant, which is supposed to cover this, is based on Canada Student Loan guidelines and serves to screen out many of the very students it is meant to support. For example, women must get their husbands to fill out the form in order to qualify! Likewise, adult youth must get parental approval. If BC is serious about an anti-poverty strategy, we must continue to remove the barriers adult students face in accessing ABE courses. 

Another area we mustn’t forget is childcare. While I don’t rely on childcare myself anymore, I made a personal promise that I would continue to speak out for universal childcare until it was realized. It is also closely linked to education and parental access to Adult Basic Education. Above all, it is an integral part of a rigorous anti-poverty strategy. 

I look forward to seeing the BC government move forward on these foundational budget items.

Regards,

Lynn Horvat

ABE Instructor

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “BC budget consultation season rolls around again

  1. Lynn this is a great letter and points to issues that are new to me and quite shocking. Can you tell us more? What is happening when women must have their husbands fill in the AUG form to qualify? How can adult youth (over 19?) require a parent signature to participate in education?

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  2. Yes, of course. The grant application requires spousal and parental declarations of income. For women this is problematic for at least a few reasons. Declaring a spouse’s income often bumps the combined family income above the very low income theshold required to get the grant. It increases red tape, as it often requires a lot of back-and- forthing to get signatures and spousal tax documents. Above all, the very act of being told “you have to get your husband’s income document and signature,” sets up a lot of practical and emotional barriers. If denied the grant, the appeal process can be lengthy, demeaning and uncertain. The spousal and parental declarations are aspects of the Canada Student Loan (CSL) rules that work against ABE students. When CSL rules are applied to students wanting to take post-secondary courses, they’re there to screen out high income learners. However, when CSL rules are applied to working-poor students taking ABE courses, they screen out even the low income earners, the very folks the grant is supposed to screen in. For youth, there has been a recent change in the Grant. Now, a youth (under 22 years), does not have to get a parental declaration if they don’t live at home. This has been a good change, and shows that other changes are possible too. Adult youth who are living at home for practical financial reasons are often working and independent, so the parental declaration is still a problem for this group of ABE students.

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