It happens all the time

It is possible, by the way, for two contradictory positions to both be true, or at least partly true. Certainly to have merit. It may be false in math or physics, but in human relations it happens all the time.

An example is the contract negotiation between the union representing school support workers and their employer, the Living Waters School Division. Arguments on both sides make sense and both could be true. So what do you do?

On the school division side, there isn’t enough money. Period. On the workers’ side, wages are low and increases not keeping up with the cost of living. This leads to an impression of being under-appreciated. All fair.

What do you do?

Something could shake loose on the funding side. The province could look at the situation and say: ‘Okay, school division; you aren’t paying your support workers enough, so we’re going to increase your funding so you can do that.’

But is that likely? The province – like governments everywhere – has spent itself into a corner trying to make life better for its people. At some point it has to put the brakes on and say, ‘Live with what you’re getting because that’s all you’re going to get.’ Municipalities and school divisions don’t want to hear that, but there’s no avoiding it. So the pain gets passed down.

That’s the climate we live in, but meanwhile, the cost of living climbs. A litre of gasoline costs as much today with oil at $75 a barrel as it did a few years ago with oil at $110 a barrel. Figure that one out. A report in the Edmonton Journal recently said the percentage of family income needed to cover mortgage payments has risen steadily in recent years to something in the vicinity of 50 per cent.

It’s hard to say where all this is heading, but it is fair to say it will include a lot of belt-tightening. There are solutions to every problem. But where is the money going to come from?

Around we go.

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