The BC Liberals have panned Tuesday’s provincial budget.
“Budget 2022 fails to properly address the issues British Columbians really care about — the ones that are on their minds every single day,” said Peter Milobar, BC Liberal Critic for Finance. “From the absence of measures to meaningfully address the rising cost of housing, gas and groceries, to the lack of progress on affordable childcare, and the continued under-funding of needed mental health and addictions supports, Budget 2022 completely misses the mark. People are looking to the NDP government to solve these problems because they repeatedly promised they would. However, after five years in power and so little tangible progress towards their goals, it’s no wonder people are starting to see that the NDP can’t get anything done.”
The Liberals say the budget comes up short in several areas:
Parents expecting $10-a-day child care will be disappointed as provisions call for $20-a-day child care with the goal remaining at $10.
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is getting an $8 million increase for public communications and engagement funding, not for new treatment beds or other measures to save lives, the Liberals say.
The NDP have added or increased three new taxes including a tax on online marketplaces; increased taxes on used car sales; and increased taxes on the purchase of home heating systems that use fossil fuels.
Coming in with an estimated $5.5 billion deficit, the Liberals say there is no plan to balance the budget. In addition, government’s StrongerBC Economic Plan has just $11 million in direct funding this year, less than the premier’s office.
“British Columbians were waiting for this second-term NDP government to make their words, slogans, and campaign promises a reality and finally produce real results on affordability,” said Milobar. “Unfortunately, Budget 2022 delivers nothing but the same tired NDP rhetoric, and a 10 per cent raise for NDP cabinet ministers. With this budget, it’s clearer than ever that the NDP loves big spending on small achievements. People are done waiting for this government to actually follow through on their promises.”
The Green Party of B.C. was also critical of the budget, saying it acknowledges the challenges ahead but lacks the vision needed for a province dealing with overlapping crises.
“A government shows you their priorities by how they spend their money, not with what they say,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley. “We heard this NDP government use the right words on climate and inequality, but once again they failed to deliver on the outcomes. In a time like this, people need a vision that meets their needs while giving them hope for the future. This budget didn’t deliver.”
“There are some positive investments in Budget 2022, like core funding for sexual assault centres and the overdue launch of the DRIPA Secretariat,” said Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “Budget 2022 also creates a dedicated ministry for Land, Water, and Resource Stewardship, and includes a significant investment in emergency management and recovery in light of the climate crisis. I applaud this government for taking these steps in the right direction.”
“Ultimately, this budget does little overall to address the systemic issues we face,” said MLA Furstenau. ”This government continues to project increased revenues from fossil fuel development, mining, and housing sales – undermining any investments made in affordability and climate resiliency. As long as people are struggling to house themselves, feed their families and deal with the impacts of climate change, our economy will not be healthy.”
The following key areas were lacking in Budget 2022:
- Healthcare: No expansion of safe supply and harm reduction measures; no funding to support family doctors providing lifelong care; no investment into supporting healthcare workers; no expansion of mental health services; and, no recognition of the importance of preventive health.
- Climate resilience: Lack of conservation financing or details of species at risk recovery; no changes to the oil-and-gas royalty review system; insufficient funding to strengthen our transportation corridors; and little expansion of our public transit system outside of Metro Vancouver.
- Economy: Lack of a vision for a truly inclusive economy that leaves no one behind; no real use of genuine progress indicators; no investment in making education more affordable, despite one million highly-skilled jobs opening in the next ten years; and, insignificant investment in circular economy and cleantech.
- Housing: Continued forecasted government profits from rising home prices, while taking no measures to cool the market, and a lack of support for non-market, non-profit housing initiatives.