The snow slowly melts away in my yard. I reminisce about how lovely it was to have my energy expended shovelling it. Thankfully I had some help from neighbours and an electric shovel. We searched for places to pile the white agony. Struggled clearing the wheelchair ramp so we could navigate out to dialysis three times a week.
My thoughts turned to service. In 1973 I was in Revelstoke for the winter, was contracted to work for the RCMP and other businesses in a service industry job. Sometimes I traveled the Roger’s Pass to Golden in the dead of night during blizzards.
Authorized by my employer to call up the Department of Highways who would then escort me across the passes I followed behind a snowplow. It was owned, operated and maintained by the government of BC. The Department of Highways yellow trucks were seen everywhere. Roads were kept in amazing condition.
In the summer we would joke about all the men standing around potholes leaning on shovels while one with the least seniority shovelled the hardest. We may have thought this as wasteful. In fact, government departments have been decimated over the years and replaced with private contractors.
Each one of those union men leaning on shovels, the gentleman driver who would take the time to clear the road during a blizzard so that I could get to the RCMP detachment safely were all civil servants. They worked directly for us.
Unionized, they enjoyed a decent middle class standard of living, had guaranteed pensions, extended health, disability plans, free medical and dental. We paid for all of this. Us the taxpayer, we are the shareholders who benefited from having safe roads to travel and good jobs for many.
Well somewhere along the line, someone with wealth and influence decided that the unions wanted too much. Well guess what? The department of highways wasn’t a for profit business. A service that afforded enough in its budget to maintain, repair and build new roads and bridges. Constantly improving the infrastructure that we had already paid for in our taxes.
I don’t have any issue with paying taxes. For when I drove throughout BC there was always freshly painted road lines, no potholes, high quality bridges and fresh paint on all the steel on the bridges. Our province was amazing. BC parks had these beautiful cedar and concrete picnic tables, free firewood, friendly attendants and minimal user fees. The back country had forestry service campsites that were free to use and in top condition. In short truly Beautiful British Columbia.
Back to the wealthy business owners and their shareholders who wanted a piece of the pie. They saw an opportunity to make a profit for themselves. They dismantled unions, misdirecting us to believing that the unions were greedy.
Biggest threat to government working as the service it is, is privatization. Standards were lowered very quickly, road lines faded, the bridges weren’t painted often enough. Instead of paying greedy unions, who were trying to keep themselves with a decent standard of living, politicians were influenced by their greedy party donors. They decided that we were better off paying profits and dividends to, often out of province companies so private investors could lower service quality and reap taxpayer money into their pocket and to their wealthy owners and shareholders.
Remember this when the politicians brag about what a great job they are doing. They give us back a little of what they’ve robbed from us, the almost eaten carrot dangled before us. When was the last time any politician in BC actually realized they are civil servants too? Hired by us, the owners and shareholders of BC, the legislature, answerable to us, is akin to the board of directors of a business. Each ministry is the management team providing services to the province. A province now in need of major repair.
Well time for me to get ready for a couple of medical appointments, more on that next time. Hope you enjoyed your time with me as much as I did with you today.
Have a wonderful day, the sun is shining, if we are involved and knowedgable voters we can have more sunny days in the future of BC.