A totally spontaneous expression of gratitude breaks out for Premier Christy Clark and Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes at the Quesnel rodeo after a rural school fund was announced in June.

A totally spontaneous expression of gratitude breaks out for Premier Christy Clark and Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes at the Quesnel rodeo after a rural school fund was announced in June.

BC VIEWS: Premier Red Green’s fast fixes

Premier Christy Clark has pulled out the duct tape to fix up rural schools, school buses and the minimum wage

Comedian Steve Smith, better known as Red Green, is touring B.C. in September, reprising his popular TV series in which he fixes every conceivable problem with duct tape.

Green’s “I’m Not Old I’m Ripe” tour hits Chilliwack, Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Surrey, Vernon, Kelowna and Prince George.

His formula for deploying the handyman’s secret weapon has proven so popular that Premier Christy Clark may have been inspired. She’s had quite a flurry of hasty repairs in the last few months. Here’s a recap.

The B.C. minimum wage was starting to lag behind other provinces, even after the overhaul it received in 2015, where annual increases are tied to inflation.

Like Red’s truck tires, there has been a lack of inflation, and a surge of government spending back east leaving B.C. in the dust. B.C.’s wage rose 20 cents last year and was set to go up by another whole dime this fall.

There was that familiar ripping sound in May as Clark and Jobs Minister Shirley Bond announced the September increase will be patched up to 40 cents, with another 40-cent increase next fall. Two wraps should hold it until after the election.

Remember the episode where Red taped two old Hyundai Ponies side by side to make a handyman’s Hummer? The school system has seen that kind of work in recent months.

The first roll was applied by Education Minister Mike Bernier when he announced in March that the ministry’s “fix-it fund” was going from $35 million to $40 million. Then in mid-May, he announced 80 successful projects. The “fix-it fund” had fattened to $45 million, and Bernier was just getting his sleeves rolled up.

Hey school districts, remember the $25 million in “administrative savings” the ministry demanded for the second year in a row? Now that you’ve squeezed that from your budgets, Bernier’s good news at the end of May was that the government’s giving it back to use for “front line services for students.”

One of those services could be “maintaining schools despite falling enrolment in certain regions,” Bernier announced May 31, foreshadowing the next layer of repairs.

Sure enough, a “rural schools fund” was rolled out on June 15. Clark and Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes made the announcement in Quesnel, where Kersley and Parkland elementary schools were going to close.

Also eligible for a special fund was Okanagan-Similkameen, where Osoyoos high school students were going to be bused a half hour to Oliver. This is hardly unusual in rural schooling around B.C., but these are swing ridings, you see.

Kootenay Lake district declined the opportunity to keep Yahk elementary open, with an anticipated fall enrolment of zero students. This all comes during the annual ritual combat between the ministry and Vancouver school board over keeping half-empty schools open.

Bernier had one more roll in his overalls. School bus service, one of those things jettisoned or saddled with hundreds of dollars in fees per student as districts scraped up those “administrative savings,” was selectively saved with another $15 million fund announced last week.

There have been a few other country fixes. They’re not going to ban weddings on farms any more, for instance.

That old jalopy in the back yard you’ve been trying to soup up and get back on the road? Soon you can get a collector plate for that thing, which is perfect if you can only get it running once or twice a year.

To paraphrase Red, if the voters don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read