Whatever the final government deal is with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and whenever it’s settled, the BCTF must quit opposing economic growth if it ever hopes to accomplish its long-term salary and class size goals.
The BCTF’s long-held desire to go back to year 2000 tax levels in order to fund raises for teachers, would gut most families financially – B.C. budget documents show a two-income family of four, making $90,000 annually, would pay $6,234 a year in provincial income tax, nearly double what they pay today.
Taxpayers can’t afford that kind of hike, and the B.C. government knows it. That’s why they are focusing on growing the B.C. economy to generate more money from sources other than taxpayers.
But the BCTF, inexplicably and wildly overstepping its bounds as a union meant to represent the interests of teachers at the bargaining table, has come out against virtually every significant economic development project proposed in B.C.
Why would the BCTF pass a motion against the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would generate $1.2 billion for taxpayers over its first three decades in operation? How could that possibly serve the interests of its members, who want higher wages and smaller classes?
How did it serve the teachers’ union to reject the Prosperity Mine in the Chilcotin, which would have generated $5.52 billion in new tax revenue for the province, plus another $4.3 billion for the federal government?
Why would the teachers’ union oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal, months before any plan had been released?
Why is the B.C. teachers’ union fighting the Keystone XL pipeline, which would never come near B.C.?
The BCTF flag flew high at an anti-fracking rally in Vancouver last month – yes, the union opposed the fledgling liquefied natural gas industry, too.
Why would the BCTF join Occupy Vancouver, protesting against the same wealth-generating corporations their teachers’ pensions are heavily invested in: TD Bank ($155.7m in pension investments), ScotiaBank ($124.3m), RBC ($166.7m), Bank of Montreal ($75.2m) and Bell Canada ($61.2m)?
Despite actively opposing all of these economic drivers, the BCTF still cries poor, noting teachers start here with a salary of $49,410, way behind Alberta’s $58,500.
Alberta teachers get paid more for a simple reason: that province has aggressively pursued economic growth and could afford more. The oil sands, the single rate tax, and other economy boosters generate billions that flow into the provincial treasury, making it possible for Albertans to pay their teachers more – while their taxpayers shell out $50 per week less than identical British Columbians.
Alberta teachers have benefitted from Alberta’s economic growth, so it’s probably no surprise the Alberta Teachers’ Association isn’t out campaigning against the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Want a raise, B.C. teachers? Want to address class size and composition? Then quit fighting every economic (and tax revenue growing) opportunity that comes B.C.’s way.
Jordan Bateman is the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.