Local MLA disappointed with the BC Liberal 2014 budget

The BC Liberals released their 2014 budget last week, leaving Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald “disappointed.”

The BC Liberals released their 2014 budget last week, leaving Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald “disappointed.”

“This is a budget that fundamentally fails British Columbians as costs for hydro, medical service plan premiums, and car insurance continue to go up,” said Macdonald. “Nothing is being done to address real issues like child poverty, unemployment and skills training.”

NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth estimates the fees to increase by $900 a year (between hydro rates, MSP premiums and car insurance) for thousands of B.C. families.

MSP premiums increase by up to $5.50 a month for families earning more than $30,000 a year, effective with the start of a new fiscal year on April 1. That is the sixth consecutive increase for MSP fees, resulting in an increase of 30 per cent.

Also on April 1, a nine per cent increase in BC Hydro rates take effect, adding $8 a month to the average residential electricity bill.

The BC Teachers’ Federation was equally disappointed with the announcement. The federation’s vice president, Glen Hansman describes the budget as “a lot of promises about trades, transforming education, and supporting teachers and students, but there is nothing to back up those promises.”

Provincial funding for K-12 education will continue at 2013 levels, as the government pursues an appeal of a court decision that could add significantly to the school district costs.

The budget will be balanced for the surplus for the second straight year, but Macdonald still sees the debt rising.

“What is truly disturbing about this government’s record on financial matters is that we have skyrocketing debt and very little to show for it. Health and education services are being cut due to a lack of funding,” he said.

“And now, due to more than a decade of government interference, Crown Corporations that have traditionally operated with significant surpluses are struggling to say afloat. This budget is a classic example of mismanagement of the province’s resources: taxpayers get less while paying much, much more.”

The government expects to end the current year with an operating surplus of $175 million, rising to $184 million next year, which Finance Minister Mike de Jong said is mainly a result of spending discipline. B.C. and Saskatchewan are the only provinces to balance budgets this year, and the three western provinces remain the only ones with a triple-A credit rating.

Taxpayer-supported debt rises to more than $43 billion in the coming fiscal year, climbing to $45.5 billion by 2016-17. About $11 billion of next year’s burden is operating debt left by a string of deficits in recent years.

Total provincial debt, including self-supported debt held by BC Hydro and other agencies, grows from $64.7 billion this year to $68.9 billion three years from now.

Although fees are increasing, there were few changes made to the taxation model. The biggest tax increase being the one placed on tobacco, which will increase by 32 cents a pack in April, on top of the latest federal increase of 40 cents a pack.

With files from Black Press

Just Posted

Golden’s weekly 60-second news recap

Highlighting the top stories from last week

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Services Report: Woman missing from Columbia Valley, two males arrested for attempted robbery

Golden-Field RCMP RCMP in the Columbia Valley are seeking the public’s assistance… Continue reading

Property owners say CSRD’s offer for 10-acres bordering landfill is unfair

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) has offered to purchase a 10-acre… Continue reading

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Man wanted for sex trafficking, confinement may be heading to B.C.

Kevin Myrthil, 26, is also accused of assault on a 19-year-old woman at an Edmonton hotel

Most Read