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EDITORIAL – How affordable is this ‘make life more affordable’ budget?

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James reveals budget details to “lockup” prior to budget speech in Legislature. (Image: BC Govt, screenshot)

An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IF THERE WAS ever any doubt there’s no middle ground in B.C. politics, the NDP government’s budget announced yesterday removes it.

The Liberals, when they were in power, were notorious cheapskates.

The NDP are anything but.

Their new budget will spend generously on childcare, housing, health care, indigenous children and youth, and women survivors of violence, to name a few.

All very worthy recipients.

Question is, who’s going to pay for it? We will, of course. And business.

Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, in offering the Liberal opposition’s official response, quickly drew the battle lines.

While grudgingly acknowledging the NDP’s recognition of families, she painted the new budget as one built on the backs of job creators, a budget that includes no plan to grow the economy.

She’s pretty close to the mark.

Business will pay a new payroll deduction tax to fund the gradual elimination of MSP premiums.

And there are new taxes on the housing market, tobacco, carbon and property transfers. And when business doesn’t do well, nobody does well.

What about us, here in the Interior?

Finance Minister Carole James made several vague references to Terrace, Prince Rupert, and Prince George, but there were no words for the Okanagan or Thompson-Nicola.

We can probably assume the Royal Inland Hospital expansion is somewhere in the $3.1 billion of capital spending promised for hospitals, since the government has offered previous assurances it’s a go.

Does the $2 billion to replace or expand schools include the extensive shopping list from the long-ignored School District 73? Let’s hope so, but we don’t know yet.

There was a passing one-paragraph reference to the doctor shortage, which is, of course, of special interest hereabouts.

There was also mention of tourism and the room tax, but what about forestry and agriculture?

As a social programs document, this “make life more affordable” budget deserves high marks. But if average Joe and Josephine don’t end up paying through the nose for it over the next three years, I’ll come right back here and eat my hat.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6018 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – How affordable is this ‘make life more affordable’ budget?

  1. Why is it that when a progressive government proposes to spend money on social programs the first question posed is “how are we going to pay for it”.
    Why is this question never posed when a conservative government gives massive tax relief to corporations when they promise to create a few jobs in exchange for extracting whats left of our forests or digging up non-renewable resources in our communities.
    Why is the question never posed when some governments go hundreds of millions of dollars over budget to build convention centres or bridges over the Fraser River or propose to create thousands of jobs with pie in the sky LNG promises.
    Why is the question never posed when a conservative/liberal government promises a debt free BC while at the same time they are increasing the provincial debt to nearly $70 billion.
    Mel, we’ve been paying through the nose for it for the last 16 years and I have yet to see you even look at your hat never mind start to eat it !!

  2. What I’ll be interested to see is how/if the lower mainland housing affordability issue turns out. What I don’t think many people appreciate is how the economy would change if/when the average person in Vancouver doesn’t have to put every cent he or she earns into keeping a roof over his/her head. Disposable income is important to a healthy economy. Right now I don’t see much of that down there.

    I don’t think that’s something you can guarantee via a budget, but the right pressure points might help things out. We’ll just have to see…

  3. The Liberal’s policy of cutting taxes to almost nothing, and saying the hell with social programs has not worked.Making up for those low taxes through user fees only hurt those least able to pay. For businesses that already pay for employees MSP, there will be no difference in cost, no matter what they are screaming about. Business just hoped that they would get to put that money in their pockets instead. You cannot have a fair society, if you do not have taxation at a reasonable level.

  4. The new payroll deduction tax doesn’t apply for a business doing less than
    $ 500,000 yearly gross.
    Then you mentioned the doctors shortage…for which more public money would be needed. Then you mentioned the economy…the economic growth which until now never drew on much except tax cuts and incentives to businesses which both took away from the pool of public funds availability.
    And we know now tax cuts and business incentives made the rich richer and everyone else struggling.
    Did you suddenly forget recent narratives tied to real, palpable, undeniable worldly (but with a local component) events?

    • Ken McClelland // February 21, 2018 at 8:47 AM // Reply

      Salt and pepper or hot sauce on that hat, Mel? Dig deep folks, your last discretionary dollar is in there somewhere……

  5. Every level of government distributes money they receive through taxation.
    When a news report covers a story about a certain party in power spending money on a social program or a highway upgrade, what is really being said is that tax money is being distributed “this way”.
    Take a look at Newton’s laws of physics and what is said about energy. Energy is neither created nor destroyed but is changed from one form to another (said loosely).
    That is kind of how things are with tax dollars; highway repairs, studies on outdoor ice surfaces and snow redistribution take place and fit into the bigger, overall picture.
    7.5% or 8% PST anyone?

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