Picture this TV ad. A toddler climbs stairs. The toddler morphs into a child, the child into teenager, teenager into adult – – all of them climbing stairs. A worker climbs a ladder to a door marked “employee entrance” (from an advertisement for Achieve BC paid for by the government of B.C.).
What are these dream-like ads from the government trying to tell us? And what is it costing taxpayers?
One dream interpretation of climbing stairs is “a change in consciousness, or a change in understanding. In a more material sense, it could represent a rise in economic or social status.” The psychology for Achieve BC seems to be about increased wealth and well-being.
Achieve BC is the brainchild of Premier Campbell and it’s costing more than he had originally hoped. Campbell thought that he could pay for it out of his office budget when the cost was only $4.7 million. But as soon as it hit $7.1 million, he shifted it to the budget of the Ministry of Management Services where it remains buried.
Now the cost of Achieve BC is away from public view. I tried to find out the cost from the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services when they were in Kamloops last October. A committee member told me that he would find out and let me know, but no word yet.
At first glance, I wonder why the government spent millions. I guess it’s supposed to be inspirational. You can watch a video clip in which the premier says “Achieve BC is about bringing out the best in all of us. Whether it’s new parents wanting to give their children a healthy start in life, workers striving to be the best in their profession, or students planning for future opportunities – all of us want to be the best we can.”
Achieve B.C. only makes sense in combination with other actions of this government. When you couple it with Campbell’s plan for low-income British Columbians, a bigger picture immerges. In a few months, he intends to cut-off thousands from welfare. The B.C. Liberals refuse to say exactly how many. It’s a worry to cities, which will suddenly have thousands more homeless people.
The government’s message seems to be “after you find yourself with no means of support, check out Achieve B.C. for inspiration.” Campbell’s plan is a little short on reality.
First, the poor don’t lack motivation. There’s nothing like the prospect of destitution to focus the mind on trying to get a job. The problem is that B.C. has one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada.
Low income British Columbians are not likely to have a computer and the internet service required to access the Achieve BC website, in order to receive the premier’s wonderful inspirational message. And if they had a TV and saw the Achieve BC ad, they could easily mistake it for a promotion for RRSP’s. Not the kind of stuff that would interest someone who would buy groceries if they had any money.
Those made homeless by this government face a big problem. Let’s say that they have filled out an application. Potential employers are not likely to consider an application that gives an address as a sleeping bag under a bridge, or a cardboard box in a back alley.
It doesn’t seem to occur to the premier that the barriers to getting off welfare are affordable housing, education, and access to health care. But why would that occur to Campbell when his home, powerful connections, and wealth are as common as water is to a fish?
Or maybe the message of Achieve B.C. is not for those on welfare after all. It’s a message to those of us with computers and TVs, to let us know that the Campbell’s government has a plan, however flawed, to get people off the welfare rolls.
And the poor also serve as a useful warning. Don’t expect higher wages or any improvement in your lives. Cooperate, or a sawmill or factory could be closing down in your town, and the fate of the poor will befall you.
Speaking of jobs, here’s a new one. Thanks to my retirement from UCC, a new person is employed. I plan on putting more time into my retirement project, Trio Technical.