Aug. 31, 2001
Editorial - Education an essential service
How essential a service? (Editorial)
Jews are noted for a dedication to books and learning, which is
why we should be particularly concerned about several events occurring
in British Columbia right now.
As has been the case several times in the last few years, the Vancouver
Public Library has been forced by budgets to close for a week at
the end of the summer. There have also been hard choices over the
same time period as the city grapples with budget cuts from the
province which, in turn, the province has blamed on the federal
Regardless of the causes or who is ultimately to blame, the closure
of the main library for a week is a shame for a city of relative
wealth like Vancouver. We can hardly suggest alternatives, of course.
We assume that, in light of conflicting demands, the library board
has opted to do what it deems the least destructive alternative.
Other considerations over the years have included permanently closing
some neighborhood branches, which would be especially detrimental.
It is curious, however, that this year's closure comes amid the
debate over declaring education an essential service in British
Education, of course, is essential. And nobody can deny it is a
service, so under strict definition of the term "essential
service," education fits the bill. In reality, declaring education
an essential service is a cheap effort at political grandstanding
by a new government that is popular enough that it shouldn't have
to stoop to this level.
Essential services are ambulances, fire fighters and police - services
without which we might die.
The rhetoric from Education Minister Christy Clark is disingenuous,
as she insists that education is absolutely essential for young
Of course it is essential, but it is not life-and-death. It is
not an essential service in the sense that the term was originally
intended. Declaring education an essential service is a bullying
act by a new government intending to stare down its potential enemies
before a real fight begins.
Meanwhile, if the provincial government were determined to provide
a climate in which education and learning were genuinely sacred,
they would come up with the cash so that the exquisite new library
in the heart of the city does not become a black hole once a year
for a week.