NDP says English language students left behind by government, Virk says government working with institutions on solution

STUDENTS who need to access English language programs are being let down and left behind by the B.C. Liberal government while their programs are forced to shut down, say B.C. New Democrats.

“Premier Christy Clark promised in her throne speech to ‘ensure today’s students enjoy the best opportunities and career possibilities.’ But here are programs that prepare new British Columbians for further education and for good jobs in specialized fields, and her government approved a deal that will mean they are forced to shut down,” said New Democrat Leader John Horgan.

Under the agreement the B.C. Liberals reached with the federal government, funding for these programs will run out April 1, 2015, forcing some programs to begin winding down as early as December.

“At the end of this school year, 9,000 students at B.C. colleges will lose access to English language education. The B.C. Liberals saw these cuts coming for two years and did nothing to prevent them,” said Horgan.

“Today in the legislature we asked Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk what his plan is to ensure B.C. has as many spaces next April as we have today. He had no answer for us, or for the hundreds of students from these programs who visited the legislature today asking for help.”

Although provinces like Alberta and Ontario fund similar language programs, the B.C. Liberals have refused to step in to keep these programs alive.

“If the B.C. Liberals were committed to growing our economy and supporting immigrants to this province like they say they are, they would act today and ensure these programs are not shut down. But you just can’t take the B.C. Liberals at their word. ”


VIRK provided the following statement on English language training:

“As a result of the federal government’s decision, the ministry lost $17 million in base-funding that flowed through the province for public post-secondary institutions to deliver English language training.

“Our government’s focus remains on students so they can continue to access English language training to succeed, find jobs and help the Province meet workforce demands.

“The Ministry of Advanced Education is working with institutions on how they can keep English language training sustainable beyond 2014/15, and will communicate any decisions, once they are made.

“However, it is important to note that the federal government continues to fund English language classes for immigrants through non-profit agencies and public post-secondary institutions.

“To support the transition, our government provided $17.2 million in one-time funding to all public post-secondary institutions for ESL in 2014/15.

“We expressed our concerns about the transition to a new funding model and repeatedly made it clear that the preference was for the previous funding model to remain in place.”