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August 21, 2017 6:52 am

Budget is ‘petulant’

Saturday, February 25, 2017 @ 6:53 AM

by Dermod Travis,

If last year’s provincial budget could be described as petty, after Finance minister Mike de Jong doled out an increase in assistance rates for those living with disabilities, only to claw most of it back by ending the subsidized bus pass program, this year’s budget could best be described as petulant.

This is de Jong’s “I don’t want to, but I will because it’s an election year” budget.

There were some positive measures: reducing the interest rate charged on student loans by 2.5 per cent is a good step and reducing the PST on electricity for businesses – towards its eventual elimination – is a positive move as well.

Most of it, however, comes across as a good old college try at throwing a bit of money at anything political – one-time funding if possible – but not enough to actually address any one of the problems.

The budget noted that B.C. saw a net in-flow of 50,306 people during the first nine months of 2016 and then a few pages on boasted of its investment in affordable housing.

The government’s plan will see 4,900 new units built over five-years, less than a quarter of the number brought in by former premier Gordon Campbell over his 10-years in office.

The $100 billion B.C. Prosperity Fund charade continues apace with another $400 million tossed into the kitty. $99.5 billion left to go.

In the 2013 Throne Speech, Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon told the assembled that: “Future natural gas royalties will be designated to this fund, ensuring British Columbia families can benefit from the prosperity created.”

Last year, natural gas royalties brought in $159 million.

Guichon also noted that the government “spends approximately $2.4 billion (annually) on interest to service the total provincial debt.”

It spends $2.68 billion today.

Turns out a not so funny thing happened along the road towards a Debt-Free B.C., the province’s debt has actually grown under Premier Christy Clark by $21.5 billion, from $45.15 billion in 2010/11 to $66.666 billion in 2016/17.

And to think the B.C. Liberal party once attacked the then-governing NDP for allowing the debt to skyrocket by “$17 billion” over 10-years.

A Debt-Free B.C.’s total debt should hit $77.7 billion by 2020 or $15,781 for “every woman, man and child,” as the Liberals put it in 2001 when they attacked the NDP over the province’s then per capita debt of $8,428.

De Jong’s fiscal petulance shines through on the MSP file, however.

In an op-ed following the release of the budget, de Jong wrote: “With Budget 2017 we intend to move to eliminate Medical Services Plan premiums.”

Intend, move, decisive verbs. Could have thrown in a hope for good measure.

De Jong went on: “As a first step, we are cutting MSP premiums in half for families and individuals with family net incomes of up to $120,000 per year, effective Jan. 1, 2018.”

“As a result, in addition to the estimated two million people who currently pay no premiums, a further two million British Columbians will see their premiums cut in half — a move that will put almost $1 billion in the pockets of middle-class British Columbians.”

Last year, MSP premiums brought in $2.5 billion. In 2018/19 – the first full fiscal year where the cuts will be in effect – they’re forecast to bring in $1.72 billion.

After the two million who will see their premiums cut in half are added to “the estimated two million” paying no premiums at all, makes one wonder how many are left to pay the full MSP freight?

There are only 4.06 million British Columbians over the age of 15.

Perhaps the government is counting on most of those who will be eligible for the cut not to know about the necessary paperwork required to receive it?

Putting “almost $1 billion in the pockets of middle-class British Columbians” is a nice touch, but it wasn’t that long ago – 2010/11 to be exact – when MSP premiums brought in the roughly $1.72 billion de Jong estimates he’ll see in 2018/19.

The post-budget scramble to try and explain the MSP measure speaks to the old adage that a camel really is a horse designed by a committee.

But don’t think those two million British Columbians are ungrateful.

Rumour has it some hefty ICBC and B.C. Hydro hikes are coming down the pipe.

-Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca

Comments

Crash and burn: ICBC goes from money-maker to deep in the red

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/crash-and-burn-icbc-goes-from-money-maker-to-deep-in-the-red-1.3995934

    If ICBC was allowed to keep the money they charge us for rates, instead of the money going into general revenue coffers, they probably wouldn’t have a problem. But since it is a wonderful source of income, probably unaccountable, for the government I doubt we will see many changes in the near future.

    Like the carbon tax, great income and they don’t have to do a thing with it but spend it where ever as they sure aren’t reducing the carbon with it
    .

      It is hard to change revenue streams, once a government goes one way to eliminate a stream you have to bring on a stream from somewhere else. Ending the revenue from crown corps that the NDP started is a tough one as you have to make up the revenue elsewhere. Higher taxes would be the easy NDP step but people are already taxed to the max. Taxing industry higher just creates the problem we had with the previous NDP term in office. People are scared of and opposed to big change as we saw with the HST whether beneficial n the long run or not. Biggest mistake we made as a province was force the resignation of Gordo, deficit was being paid off, we had surpluses and a good economy gaining back the losses of the NDP era like small things even, the regaining of our credit rating to pay less interest, HST would be 10 percent now instead of 7 PST and 5 GST. Some things just make no sense. We as the populous see things on the surface, the leaders see down to the bone and develop policy to steer the ship hoping not to pee off the populous who have all but had enough with politics. I wish them well but have no wish to be one of them constantly being praised and berated at the same time

Can anyone who reads this article still insist that the Liberal Government is doing a **great** job.??

When we look at the MSP situation we need to keep in mind that there are over 200,000 Provincial employee’s and a similar number of Federal, and Municipal employee’s in the Province so in effect taxpayers are paying the MSP premiums for roughly 400,000 Government workers. So if they reduce the cost of these premiums by 50% then the Government in fact makes money, because there is no corresponding cut in taxes to offset taxpayers costs in paying Government premiums. This is a prime example of the old shell game.

When we look at all the lumber mills, plywood mills, pulp and paper mills, fish canneries, mines, etc; that have shut down in BC since the Liberals came to power we should be flabbergasted.

The Liberals may not be responsible for all the closures, however you can rest assured that had these closures taken place when the NDP was in power, all hell would have broken loose and the NDP would have gotten the blame.

Sooo, whats good the the goose is good for the gander. Industry in BC has taken a serious hit in the past 16/17 years since the Liberals came to power, and they need to do some explaining.

    I think all the parties are the same once elected, they take care of their election backers and the rest of us can go hang.

      Exactly… lie to get in..then do what you want…

    Closures did happen during the NDP, problem was they turned them into public leeches like Skeena Cellulose. No magic pill, but you can’t take over businesses on the taxpayer purse

    PG does the same thing buying land for developers with our tax dollars then giving them to entities that could easily buy it themselves. Someone has to tell the city they aren’t entrepreneur developers, they are just planners for the city. Don’t step on development of it is in line with the overall plan – don’t change the plan because someone waves a 20 in your face

Scrap ICBC, every year good drivers are penalized! Sometimes legitimate and the majority stupid. IE:Summer tires in winter down south are the causes. Should be mandatory winter tread. Now we up north will pay for the morons down south, Yahoo! Should be done per capita or along those lines if at all possible.

    they do, they are all supposed to run mud and snow tires in the winter, enforcing it is almost impossible , unless they have an accident.
    I can’t see police officers having to go around checking everyone’s tires, that would be totally impractical.

      Obviously not so impractical in PG since we now have peeps in place to record license plates of those parked downtown for more than the legitimate 3 hours. With their camera equipment, and obviously, their available time downtown, they could take pics of whatever might make money for the city.

    Lien, that is so very true. The weather has changed and lower mainland drivers are costing us huge. Would love to see insurance go private.
    Lot of money saved getting rid of the ICBC overpaid bureaucrats.

      The two provinces with the highest insurance rates in the country are Ontario and Alberta. Both of those provinces have purely private auto insurance, so private insurers do not automatically ensure cheaper rates.

      Insurance rates in BC would probably be substantially lower if ICBC wasn’t always being used as a milking cow by whatever government is in power. However, it is so much nicer to soothingly tell gullible voters that you are running balanced budgets, all while attaining that “balance” by transferring debt from the government books to the books of Crown Corporations like ICBC and BC Hydro.

    Scrap no fault insurance. If you cause an incident you alone should pay for it.

      Scrapping no-fault insurance would not lower insurance premiums. In fact, they would probably go up even faster than they are now, due to the increased litigation costs of an at-fault system.

Why don’t they leave the msp premiums where they are and put that money back in the surgery wait time and clear up this back log of waiting 2 to 4 years in pain to get op. on. My wife is in so much pain it is destroying a good life. I have always been liberal but have had enough of this B.S.

Can we not call ‘Integrity BC’ what it really is? A propaganda arm for the NDP.
The first few articles tried to be balanced. But those days are clearly long gone.

    Everything becomes a propaganda arm for the NDP as soon as their conclusions don’t align with your beliefs in the sanctity of the Lib-Cons running this province.

      They’re doing a better job than the NDP would. Hopefully people remember this come voting day.

      Ayup!

    OMG, did you say “propaganda”?
    You mean this is a left winger article? I read it again, Yer RIGHT!
    “Rumour has it some hefty ICBC and B.C. Hydro hikes are coming down the pipe” Since when did an honest reporter, with Integrity speak rumors? Dermod, you had better get some balance in your reporting skills.

Another excellent opinion piece Dermod Travis. Many of the cogent points you raise have been echoed by myself in the past, the Debt Free BC Liberal fantasy, the Trillion Dollar Prosperity Fund joke.

You would thin BC Liberal supporters would be hanging their heads in embarrassment, but no, they tend to tune out reality and hang on to their failing right wing ideology. They remind me of those three monkeys, on covering its mouth, one covering its eyes, and the other covering its ears.

    Gawd, you’re funny!

    If the ndp were to get in peeps we would have to use BOTH hands to protect another orifice in the body as their main goal is to screw the hard working people of the province and give our hard earned money to those who would sooner spend the day drunk or with a needle stuck in their arm.

      The ludicrous assumptions that you Cons come up with just take the cake.

    Trillion dollar prosperity fund BH? exaggerate much?

      And another righty gets shot down in flames! By the way, Pamela Martin is the BC Liberals’ Director of Engagement and Liaison to B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

      ht tps://twitter.com/pamelamartin_bc/status/301458801096286210?lang=en

      Thanks for playing dow.

ALL politicians lie to get in, and continue to do so to stay in. As for ICBC, they had an “underinsured motorist policy” for $25/person that they changed Sept 2016 to $30 but which would include all members of the same dwelling. Apparently, this was not a money maker, so it will now revert back to the $25/person as of March 2017. If lawyers and judges could find their backbones and balls to tell plaintiffs to get their shit together and be productive, responsible members of society, this policy (and a multitude of other issues) would be non-issues.And not that I am in any way religious, but did it not catch anyone else’s attention that the provincial debt will hit $66.666 billion in 2017???? It seems to me we have become a society of “I want,” “I deserve,” yet NO ONE wants to work for/earn anything, yet ALL bitch when the “government” doesn’t deliver. Wake up people! The government is YOU!!! If you want it, work for it!!! The world may owe you a living but you still have to get off your ass to collect it!!!

“ALL politicians lie to get in, and continue to do so to stay in.”
The election Gordon Campbell lost was because he told the truth. (He admitted he would sell BC Rail when he was elected.) The next election he said he wouldn’t sell BC Rail and he got elected. Then he sold BC Rail. Well technically he didn’t sell it he gave it away. So Christy Clark learned that the truth will not get you elected. She has come up with some real whoppers and many people were fooled by them. I don’t believe any thinking person actually believes anything she says any more but many will still vote for her because to do otherwise is to admit they were suckered.
For me it doesn’t matter which government is elected. When the right is elected they take more tax from me than necessary for the proper running of the province and give the extra to the rich. When the left is elected they take more tax than necessary as well and they give the extra to the poor and government workers. My voting choice every election is which group do I feel should get the extra taxes I pay.

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