Government commitment to increase conservation service doesn't make up for recent cuts

February 9, 2005

In the recent throne speech, the Campbell Liberal government committed to provide an additional $7.5 million funding over the next three years to add up to 50 new Conservation Officers and Park Rangers.

"While this funding is welcome, it reflects an admission of failure on the government's part, and should in no way be considered adequate to compensate for the massive cuts to the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection over the last four years," said BCGEU president George Heyman.

The ministry has already eliminated almost 400 jobs, including 186 conservation, science and planning officers - the very people responsible for protecting species-at-risk like the mountain caribou, marbled murrelet and spotted owl.

Will Horter, executive director of the Dogwood Initiative, agrees.

"It's too little too late," Horter told the Vancouver Sun. "Right now in B.C., one conservation officer has to cover 47 Stanley Parks compared with 5.7 Stanley Parks in the U.S. So 50 more conservation officers won't reduce the number dramatically."

The Conservation Officer Service, which upholds more than 20 provincial and federal laws - enforcing hunting regulations, water quality standards, hazardous waste discharges, and fisheries habitat - has suffered a 15 per cent cut in staff. BC now employs only half as many as Alberta.

By the end of 2005, the provincial government will have cut 40.7 per cent from ministry funding - crippling the government's ability to monitor and enforce its own regulations.

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