B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong says the province’s balanced budget remains on track but there is no fiscal room to sweeten the pot to get public school teachers back to work.
At the first fiscal update since he tabled the B.C. budget in February, Mr. de Jong told reporters in Victoria the surplus now looks slightly bigger, $266-million, for the current budget year.
But he said “that includes an assumption that all labour agreements will be reached within the current affordability mandate.”
The B.C. Liberal government has made balancing the budget its top political priority, and the budget presented in February was balanced on a razor’s edge. The province has settled labour contracts with more than half of its public sector workers in the current round of bargaining, and has maintained that the B.C. Teachers’ Federation will have to settle for the same terms as the rest of the public service.
The province’s 40, 000 public school teachers have been on strike since mid-June.
Mediator Vince Ready had said the two sides are too far apart on wages, benefits and working conditions to warrant mediation.
Finance minister Mike de Jong says there is no fiscal room to improve the offer to teachers and rejects binding arbitration.
— justine_hunter (@justine_hunter) September 9, 2014