Liberal Finance critic and Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond was critical of the budget update put forward by Finance Minister Carole James.
She says while investments to education and health care sound good on paper, it may come at a serious cost. “What we saw in this budget was an increase in taxation in British Columbia of almost a billion dollars over 3 years – so you see increased taxes, increased spending and virtually no plan to grow the economy or create jobs.”
Bond and the opposition Liberals are concerned that the new budget could be banking on an unrealistic outcome.
“This budget Is based on the fact that there is an assumption that the economic outcome of 2016 will be repeated including a $2.7 billion surplus that is not an assumption that you should make in a very uncertain world,” says Bond “You know we have NAFTA, softwood lumber, the impact of wildfires, cancellation of the George Massey Tunnel and potential cancellation of Site C – all of these areas create uncertainty.”
As for how the budget affects us in northern BC, Bond says things like sustainable resource development weren’t even mentioned. “We see a reference to working with industry but we do not see any specific details about the information that would help recognize the economy in northern British Columbia and that is a big concern for us. The message that has been sent is the possible cancellation of Site C and significant infrastructure projects right across the province.”
“We need to be concerned that there is now visible plan and to recognize the role that northern BC plays in the provincial economy.”
Some of the budget highlights from Monday’s budget update includes a $681 million investment over three years in education, $280 million in rental housing construction and a 50% cut to Medical Service Premiums, which is expected to be eliminated fully by 2021.
Not included in the budget was the $10-a-day child care, the $400 renter’s credit and the rate freeze to BC Hydro.