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Dix’s views on education funding vastly different from Clark’s

BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix jumps over a wooden fence as he returns to his bus following a provincial election campaign stop at Chimney Heights Park in Surrey, B.C. on Monday, May 6, 2013.

Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Adrian Dix and Christy Clark have vastly different visions for where education dollars should go, highlighting a stark philosophical difference between their parties.

Ms. Clark has vowed a B.C. Liberal government would deposit a one-time grant of $1,200 into the Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) of children born on or after Jan. 1, 2007. Once a child turns six, parents would have a year to open a RESP account and prove to the government it has been done. The money would be deposited immediately and accessible upon graduation from high school, according to the party.

"The government has set aside $1,200 for every child … and one of the things at issue on May 14 is whether parents get to keep that money and save for their children's education or whether or not the NDP take it away," Ms. Clark said Sunday at a campaign stop at a family home in East Vancouver.

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"We believe that parents can make the best decisions for

their children."

The grant is a modified version of the Children's Education Fund, created in 2007 under then-premier Gordon Campbell.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dix and the B.C. NDP believe locking funds into an RESP that would not be accessible until post-secondary education does nothing for early learning. Instead, the NDP would redirect some of $300-million the Liberals have set aside for the RESP plan to early learning and child-care programs via a new early years innovation fund. This would also reduce fees for existing licensed infant and toddler care by 20 per cent, saving families an average of $2,000 per year, and increase spaces, according to the party's platform.

In election-speak: Ms. Clark's camp sees Mr. Dix's proposal as "taking money from children to fund pet projects;" Mr. Dix sees Ms. Clark's as a mismanagement of funds that would not yield results.

At a campaign stop outside Surrey's Chimney Hill Elementary School on Monday, Mr. Dix also pledged to invest in more specialist teachers, including for English as a second language and educational assistants for children with special needs.

"The issue we're talking about here is the 18 per cent cut in special education teachers that the Liberals put in place," Mr. Dix said. "[That cut] reflects the fact the Liberal Party – the current premier was minister of education at the time – misled people in the 2001 election, misled people in 2002, and the consequences for children who require special-education support were profound."

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About the Author
News reporter

Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

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