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September 7, 2009

Minister Dances Around Sports Cut

In a news release dated August 31, BC School Sports said:

"On Friday July 24, 2009 BCSS, the governing body responsible for the delivery of high school sports and programs across the province of British Columbia through its 425 member schools, received notification that the entire provincial government operating grant for the organization had been cut. This is a devastating financial blow for BCSS (which will directly impact over 100,000 student-athletes) as there had been no communication, consultation or indications of any funding cuts prior to the announcement of this decision."

According to the North Shore News, BC School Sports president Raj Puri, principal of North Surrey secondary, had met with Ida Chong, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport, to lobby for the grant. Its elimination will save the Campbell government less than 5 thousands of one percent of its $2.8 billion deficit. In exchange for that savings, the government has betrayed 100,000 young athletes and their parents. It is no wonder that 72% of British Columbians feel the Campbell government lied to them and the BC Liberals are falling like a lead balloon in the opinion polls.

Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid was quoted in a story in the September 5th Vancouver Sun saying: "Rather than formal team sports, maybe people will be doing more walking or dancing or playing in parks." Instead of telling athletes what they can do in place of sports, MacDiarmid should say that she recognizes the importance of extracurricular sports and will do everything possible to find the funding necessary to help BC School Sports continue past January 2010 when they will run out of money.

Instead of penalizing 100,000 young athletes, Campbell should eliminate Chong's position and merge her cabinet position with a real ministry, like the Ministry of Health. That could be done with several of Campbell's make-work ministries which are little more than rewards for some members of his caucus, giving them $50,000 a year in extra pay for a full Minister like Chong and $35,000 a year in extra pay for 4 Ministers of State, plus additional travel and staffing perks. When the full costs are considered, BC School Sports could easily be funded with money left over simply by eliminating Ida Chong's cabinet position which has a budget of $745,000 just for the Minister's office in 2009-2010, up from $359,000 last year. The increase in the budget for Chong's Ministerial Office is three times greater than the amount of the grant taken away from BC School Sports. As for Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, she should visit a few schools and learn about the importance of extracurricular activities, including school sports.


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