THE LATEST from the B.C. government says that it is ” … seeking public input on rural education as part of a strategy being created by Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Education Linda Larson to better understand the needs of students, parents, schools and communities in rural B.C….”
Problem is, however, that the government has failed, miserably, to provide the supports and structure rural communities need, as well as failing to have resource development approved to ensure long-term, and increased employment, in rural British Columbia.
In key sectors, for rural and small town B.C., job losses have been dramatic (B.C. Stats Earnings and Employment Trends – October 2016):
Agriculture down 33 per cent since 2006.
Forestry and Logging down 19 per cent since 2007.
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping down 31 per cent since 2007.
Lost jobs equals decreased population, equals reduced services, equals closed businesses, equals closed schools. On top of that it also means closed hospitals, court houses, and government agencies.
The latest in a long list of job losses will be just down the road in Merritt, in a matter of months — over 200 direct jobs as a results of Tolko closing their mill in just a few weeks.
Even Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, acknowledges herself that, “Schools are a lifeline in B.C. communities. This is especially evident in smaller towns where one elementary school may be used before and after class for childcare, on the weekends by a local theatre company and in the evenings for a local sports team.”
The answers seems simple enough: strengthen employment opportunities in rural communities, and growth and the end to school closures in rural B.C. will follow.
If you want to have your say, go here.
In Kamloops, I’m Alan Forseth.
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada, the B.C. Reform Party and theB.C. Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.