Education of ‘great importance’ in the Comox Valley, says visiting Dix

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix announced education spending promises during his stop in the Comox Valley on Thursday.

NDP leader Adrian Dix met with Comox Valley Liberal MLA Don McRae following Dix's press conference in Comox Thursday morning.

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix announced education spending promises during his stop in the Comox Valley on Thursday.

Education is a big election issue for the NDP, one he said is of “great importance” in the Comox Valley.

“Issues of public education are very much top-of-mind,” said Dix. “If you think of the Comox Valley and the whole region, over time, we know that young people today, much more than ever before, need a high-quality public education, and that the jobs of future require post secondary education — and K-12 education is of course the platform for that.”

Dix announced Thursday an NDP government would invest $100 million to improve public school classroom learning conditions, plus $60 million to allow more spaces and lower the cost of day care, something he claims would save families with children in licensed care an average of $2,000 per year.

As well, an NDP government would create an Early Years Innovation Fund by reallocating funds from the Liberals’ education savings plan.

The Comox Valley’s Charlene Gray, a director with the Early Childhood Educators of B.C., said the NDP’s announcement was exciting in terms of the organization’s proposed Community Plan, which it has been pushing for over the past three years.

“What we found when the NDP made their announcement today was that it actually is Step One of our plan in their own form, which is amazing,” she said. “It makes reference to many of the things that are in the $10-a-day-child-care plan that families and educators need.”

Dix announced Wednesday an NDP government would invest at the post secondary level as well — $40 million in skills training and $100 million toward a needs-based student grants program annually.

According to the NDP, both education funding announcements are fully costed in the NDP’s fiscal plan released last week.

Ensuring young people have access to skills needed for future jobs is the NDP’s key issue in the election.

“The key issue, really, in our economy, is ensuring that people have the skills they need for the jobs of the future,” said Dix, adding 80 per cent of future jobs are expected to require post-secondary education. “There’s significant barriers to getting access to that education, some are financial, and some are problems in the system.

“Everywhere I go I talk about this issue. This is the issue and it means we’re not going to be able to invest in some other things right now because this is the priority.”

Meanwhile, Dix said incumbent Liberal MLA Don McRae’s impromptu appearance at the media-filled NDP education announcement in Comox Thursday shows how the Liberals plan to approach the election.

“My approach is really different from the Liberal approach,” he said, noting the Liberals’ aggressive attack ads on television as an example.

“We haven’t run one single personal attack ad. We’re going to respect our opponents everywhere, and I respect Don (McRae), I respect Premier Clark, but it’s time for a change.”

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