VICTORIA – Instead of admitting the 2013 budget isn’t and never was balanced, the Liberals have tabled a document that will lead to drastic cuts to vital services, increases to fees and will hurt British Columbia’s most vulnerable citizens, say the New Democrats.
“Budget 2013 wasn’t balanced before the election, and with today’s update, it still isn’t balanced,” said New Democrat finance critic Mike Farnworth. “British Columbians will pay more through increased fees and rate hikes and get less of the vital service on which they depend.
“Our economy is slowing, people are leaving B.C. and we’ve lost tens of thousands of private sector jobs under Premier Clark’s so-called jobs plan. Almost every economic indicator points downward, which is going to hurt revenues, yet this fact-free government clings to its balanced budget sloganeering.”
Farnworth noted that the realities of the budget numbers give the lie to the rhetoric of the government’s throne speech.
“It’s more of the Liberals’ trademark ‘say one thing, do another’ approach to governing,” said Farnworth. “The throne speech talks about caring for our most vulnerable citizens, yet we’ve already seen them slap a $300 wheelchair tax on seniors in residential care.
“That is just the beginning, as the government intends to cut an additional $130 million from vital services, including healthcare.
“The throne speech talks a good line about skills training, yet this budget cuts post-secondary education and reduces spaces by 5,600. The throne speech talks about reducing permitting wait times, yet the budget offers no resources to achieve that goal.”
Interestingly, the budget’s capital plan shows money for hospital improvements in Kelowna, where the Premier is currently contesting a by-election, but no money for the Penticton hospital, which she committed to during the general election.
“It seems the people of Penticton are no longer important to Premier Clark, as there’s no mention of their hospital in a capital plan that extends out to 2019, but she sure seems to think the people of Kelowna are important,” said Farnworth. “This is the type of cynical political pandering that British Columbians are tired of.”
The B.C. Liberal government campaigned on dubious promises of eliminating debt, balancing the budget, and retaining critical services. B.C.’s New Democrats will hold the government to account for these promises, and fight to protect the services that British Columbians depend on.