Vaughn Palmer asked the Finance Minister a question in the Budget lock-up on the day of the Budget speech. How about a list of all those programs you’re going to cut? No can do, Finance Minister Colin Hansen replied. You’ll just have to wait until the Public Accounts are published next year.
In the Liberal government’s first term major cuts were announced with glee but this time it is happening by stealth. People only find out when friends tell them about a cut, or when a local newspaper picks it up.
And local newspapers are picking up stories about cuts that are just astonishing. One of the cuts that amazed me most was the elimination of BC’s Books for Babies program. Through the program every baby born in BC was supposed to receive a book bag containing a board book, a CD and information about library and other services in their community.
The program, the Books for Babies website announced, “is one of several initiatives aimed at making British Columbia the most literate jurisdiction in North America by 2010.” The program was funded by the province with support from business. Three days after the Budget speech Premier Campbell told CBC radio in an interview that, “Honestly, I think the greatest gains are made with early childhood learning.”
Rhian Piprell, one of the programs champions was quoted in the Peace Arch News agreeing with the Premier.
“The government has put a lot of money into early learning in schools but I don’t think they are as effective as this inexpensive program because it’s reaching families when they are at their optimum best and wanting to provide opportunities for their babies.
“If you look at a child of seven and look at their reading capacity, you can predict how successful they will be in their 30s, and how healthy they are,” she said.
Honestly. Cutting a program like Books for Babies. Sometimes you have to wonder which is more non-functional, their policy judgement or their political judgement.