STONE – NDP government tables a pessimistic and uninspiring budget

(Image: Govt of B.C.)

MLA, Kamloops-South Thompson

IF YOU WERE EXPECTING bold action and a bit of hope for the future in the NDP’s seventh budget — David Eby’s first as premier — you were likely sorely disappointed by what you heard this week.

MLA Todd Stone.

Budget 2023 provides no reassurance that this government has figured out how to address the serious challenges people in Kamloops and the Thompson Valleys are facing.

If throwing money at problems — with no targets to track progress — was a strategy that worked, we wouldn’t have the terrible outcomes we’ve seen over the past six years under the NDP. It seems as though we’re in constant crisis mode in this province under their leadership.

Life has never been more unaffordable in B.C., with the highest housing and fuel costs in North America. In Kamloops, the median single family home price is now $633,700. The average rent for a purpose-built rental is now $1,395 for a 2-bedroom unit. But this budget fails to provide meaningful relief for people.

The NDP’s renters’ tax credit is a watered-down version of what they promised two elections ago in 2017. And it doesn’t go as far as it could have, had they acted sooner to make good on their promise. The cost of rent has skyrocketed in that time, and now, $400 doesn’t do much to soften the blow for those who are even eligible for the credit.

Meanwhile, people are struggling to access basic health care, and emergency rooms are frequently seeing closures. We’ve seen people die in waiting rooms or at home, waiting for an ambulance.

Here in Kamloops, expectant parents are fearful about not finding adequate maternity care in town. Yes, the budget contains more funding for health care — as it always does — but there’s nothing to suggest more funding will lead to different results. It certainly hasn’t been the case over the past six years.

While the government did allocate new dollars for addictions treatment, we also note that the government’s commitments are sorely lacking when compared against the plan proposed by the opposition.

There is no mention of eliminating fees for treatment, something that remains a huge barrier to many seeking care. There is also no target to reduce wait times for care, and no money behind building regional care centres like our BC Liberal plan calls for.

Meantime, while this government continues to announce complex care facilities, there won’t be enough staff available to open and operate these facilities once built.

Violent prolific offenders continue to terrorize communities, including ours, thanks to a ‘catch and release’ justice system overseen by David Eby while serving as the NDP’s attorney general.

But we don’t see anything of substance in this budget to support victims of crime. They’re not even mentioned. And there is no help offered for small business owners having to contend with the high security and cleanup costs associated with the rampant crime we’re seeing.

What about capital projects, which not only improve infrastructure but create good, local jobs? Well thanks to the NDP’s cost overruns on their Community Rip-off Agreements, there are barely any new major capital projects in this budget.

Residents of Kamloops will be incredibly disheartened and frustrated to hear that the Kamloops Cancer Centre is no closer to reality, with no dollars allocated for it in the budget’s three-year fiscal window. It’s reminiscent of the NDP’s 1990s promise of a local cancer centre that they ended up abandoning.

On a more positive note, a new Pineview Elementary is one of the few new capital projects highlighted in Budget 2023 — but it’s worth pointing out that after announcing it years ago, it took the NDP three budgets to actually put any money towards it. We’ll work hard to make sure that the NDP actually deliver this project.

Overall, this budget tells us that the NDP is happy with the way things are going. Despite a budget speech filled with pronouncements about how they understand the financial strain and the challenges people are facing, they’re not offering much of anything to help them.

It’s a pessimistic and uninspiring budget that does not create any hope for future generations — who will only be saddled with massive debt, thanks to the NDP’s penchant for spending with very poor results to show for it.

Todd Stone was elected MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson in 2013, 2017, and again in 2020. He currently serves as the Official Opposition House Leader as well as the Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery, Trade and Innovation.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 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.

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