Letters to The Sun, May 8, 2021: School administrator appalled by decision to cancel School Liaison Officer program

Long-time educator says the program is important to him because he has see so many students helped by SLO’s over the years

Secondary school administrator Jim Burnham says he has seen many students helped by the SLO program.

I am a public school educator with 43 years experience in elementary and secondary schools. I have been a secondary school administrator for 25 years and have worked closely with the school liaison officers in all of the schools I have been in charge of. I am writing this letter because I am appalled with the decision by the Vancouver School Board trustees, who voted to end the SLO (School Liaison Officer) program in Vancouver.

The SLO program is important to me because I have seen so many students helped by the SLO’s. Students are able to meet with SLO’s throughout the school day and in confidence that the information is not going to be shared with anyone else. I realize that some students have not always had a good experience with an SLO, but this should not have to result in shutting down the program. Sit down with the SLO and discuss the problem and try and work it out. Not only do SLO’s work with the students during school time, they also volunteer their time before and after school, as coaches or sponsors for different clubs.

All of the administrators that I have spoken with, support the SLO program 100 per cent. As far as being a huge cost to the Vancouver School Board, the SLO program is funded completely by the Vancouver police. I ask the school trustees this one important question: If you are not going to fund the SLO program starting this September 2021, what are you going to replace it with? I already know the answer — nothing!

Jim Burnham, Vancouver

Fish farms and sea lice are devastating wild salmon stocks

I read with interest the Bloomberg article, “Shrinking salmon spawns crisis that may go beyond logistical snarl.” I note in the article there is not one word about farmed salmon and the impact of sea lice on the wild salmon stocks along the British Columbia coastline, all the way up to and including Alaska.

While certainly climate change is having an effect on reducing wild salmon populations, your article neglects and leaves a gaping hole in speaking to important experts such as Alexandra Morton as to why the wild salmon stocks are shrinking. In keeping with a balanced article, address the critical issue of farmed salmon and sea lice that has been ignored by successive provincial governments in B.C. for 30 years. The Liberals started and the NDP are doing nothing to discourage it.

Let’s blame climate change, but let’s also point a sharp and long finger at the fish farms and the sea lice that are devastating our wild salmon stocks and why this has been allowed to continue.

Cathy Griffin, Burnaby

Neoliberalism denies the collective interests of the people

Re: Why Ottawa doesn’t rein in runaway house prices

Douglas Todd presents an accurate, if incomplete, description of neoliberal thinking in his column musing on why the federal government doesn’t intervene on runaway housing prices. Ottawa’s lack of response is completely consistent with a neoliberal outlook, in which “the market” rules.

Neoliberalism fundamentally changes the relationship between government and the governed, treating us as individual consumers in the marketplace. In other words, neoliberalism denies the collective interests of the people.

We have long experienced neoliberal policies in B.C. where the commons or the collective wealth the people is privatized to create profits for corporations and investors. Think B.C. Hydro and its transformation from publicly owned to operated in the interests of private energy developers. B.C. Rail sold (“leased”) to CN in 2004. The privatized B.C. Ferries and resultant fee hikes and reduced sailings rather than being operated as part of the provincial highway system. And then there is Trans Mountain Pipeline and the intermingling of government and corporate interests in profit making that is in conflict with local community interests in the environment and Indigenous rights.

Neoliberalism promotes reductions in government spending and that results in decreased access to housing, health care, education and other public services. Like Todd says, the neoliberal response to runaway house prices is to tell those who want to own a home to “try harder,” and that is completely consistent with their ideology.

E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver

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