Over the weekend, the B.C. Liberals repeated numerous claims about their job creation record in an attempt to rebuild popularity for a tired Liberal government that has lost the trust of British Columbians.
A closer look at those numbers shows their record isn’t what they claim, and that the Liberal government hasn’t learned a thing about earning back that trust.
On Job creation
The Spin: The B.C. Liberals are manipulating jobs numbers in order to try to convince British Columbians the first year of their so-called “jobs plan” and associated propaganda isn’t a waste of taxpayers’ money. They claim to be number one in Canada for job growth and to have created 57,000 new jobs since announcing the jobs plan.
The Facts: The Liberal government announced their jobs plan in September 2011, but they regularly cite job growth numbers reaching back to August of 2011. During that month before the plan was announced, B.C. saw a spike of 27,900 jobs. Actual job growth from September 2011 is 29,500, far short of the government's claim.
Under the New Democrat government of the 1990s, B.C. gained 383,100 jobs (1,577,800 to 1,960,900) in 115 months (November 1991 to May 2001) and total jobs grew by 24.3 per cent in that period. Under the Liberals, B.C. gained 325,300 jobs (1,959,600 to 2,298,100) in 127 months (June 2001 to December 2011), for total job growth of only 16.6 per cent.
On balancing the budget
The Spin: The B.C. Liberals brag that they are “on track to balance the budget.” in 2013-14.
The Facts: The finance minister acknowledged in September that their gas revenue projections were off by $1.1 billion over the next three years, and that in this year alone the Liberals will need to find another $241 million to make up the difference. Next year there will be another $389 million to look for, and following that, an additional $483 million in 2014-15.
Despite the finance minister’s promise to “do everything humanly possible” to meet the balanced budget commitment, including more than $1 billion in cuts, the premier has since announced tens of millions in pre-election spending.
The Liberals’ Budget 2012 is shaping up to look just like their 2009 pre-election budget, where they told voters the deficit would be $495 million maximum, and that they wouldn’t bring in an HST. After the election was over, the Liberal government admitted the deficit would be six times that amount, and British Columbians have been living with the HST ever since.
The Spin: The Liberal government claims to be the “most fiscally conservative in the country.”
The Facts: The Liberal government's claims don't hold water as an expensive taxpayer-funded television advertising campaign expands to radio, desperately trying to convince people the Liberal government is worthy of another term.
And while British Columbians are being asked to tighten their belts even further, given the massive increase to the provincial deficit over the next two years, the premier’s office continues to go on a spending spree with the premier’s own purchasing credit card, including $700 worth of charges at the iTunes store and blown food budgets for staff.
B.C.’s debt-to-GDP ratio?
The Spin: The Liberal government likes to compare B.C.'s debt-to-GDP ratio to jurisdictions like Spain and the U.S., which is both selective and misleading.
The Facts: A more appropriate comparison of the current government's performance would be between the Liberal record since coming to office versus the previous decade under the New Democrat government. Average annual real B.C. GDP growth from 1992 until 2001, was 2.8 per cent. Under the Liberals, from 2002 to 2011, it was only 2.5 per cent.
QUOTE: Bruce Ralston, New Democrat Finance Critic
“The Liberal government has lost the trust of British Columbians, and it is precisely because of these attempts to mislead British Columbians and manipulate job numbers and economic statistics. Sadly, we will only see more of these desperate attempts to regain popularity by the Liberal government, all on the taxpayers’ dime.
“Adrian Dix and the New Democrats are committed to tabling a realistic and modest budget that will reflect the true state of the world economy and trade opportunities.”