EDITORIAL – Time to figure out how we’re going to pay for the pandemic


An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

ISN’T IT AMAZING how a pandemic can change our entire attitude about debt?

The federal government has spent more than $150 billion in direct support to Canadians since COVID-19 hit us like a sledge hammer. The national debt is expected to pass $1 trillion for the first time.

B.C. is spending more than $8 billion on pandemic response, including Premier John Horgan’s recently announced $1.5 billion economic recovery plan. The province’s deficit is expected to come close to $13 billion.

In normal times, we’d be protesting in the streets. But nobody’s arguing very much with all this spending. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is adding even more to it in order to avoid being turfed out of office in a vote of non-confidence.

Going in debt has become a virtue for governments.

And now we have BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s promise to can the provincial sales tax for a year if his party forms the next government. In the second year, it would be three per cent, still down from the usual seven.

It’s brilliant in its simplicity. People have long since lost track of how much money is going where during this pandemic.

But cutting the sales tax? Easy for us to get our heads around. We pay that infernal tax every day and it sure would be nice to be rid of it for a while.

The question must be asked, though: where’s the $11 billion in lost government revenue going to come from? Wilkinson takes the approach that has become so common among politicians during this pandemic: we’ll figure it out later.

Sooner or later, indeed, we’re going to have to figure it out. Yes, governments have to spend money right now, but at the end of the day there will be a reckoning.

It’s time to start figuring out how we’re going to pay off our credit cards instead of just maxing them out.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9052 Articles) 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 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.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Time to figure out how we’re going to pay for the pandemic

  1. Quit spending money on the military and varsity programs. Use land to grow food rather than golf courses or alfalfa fields. Embrace simplicity in our daily lives and make frugality hip. Not only we can pay for the pandemic we could also address the environmental plight.

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