VICTORIA B.C. – “This budget represents a cynical ploy by handing out financial goodies a few months before an election,” says Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party. “It pretends to tackle issues that should have been dealt with years ago. It is politicking with public interests.
“Two years ago, I brought forward a progressive way to eliminate MSP premiums through income taxes, but the government did not act. I brought it up again the next year, and the government made a few minor changes. Now they are making a substantial reduction in MSP premiums for some British Columbians – on the eve of an election.
“This is political opportunism, pure and simple. Although the financial break is an improvement for many British Columbians, the 2017 budget clearly demonstrates that the B.C. Liberals govern by political calculation, not by what is right for the people of B.C.
“This government’s manipulation of voters’ hopes and needs is an insult to the very real anxieties British Columbians face. The B.C. Green Party will put people at the heart of our decision making. We are ready to replace Christy Clark’s contriving government with principled leadership this May.”
Additional quotes on specific sections of the B.C. Budget continued below.
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Mat Wright, Press Secretary
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Additional Quotes from Andrew Weaver
“The mindset that is used across the board with this government is ‘many of you are struggling because of our policies, we’ll help a select few of you.’ Rather than addressing the root issues, they are choosing who is worthy of support, based on their ideology. They are picking winners and losers, in our communities and in business:
“How can the government afford all these selective investments? The answer is, of course, on the backs of British Columbians. The B.C. Liberals stood by and watched the affordability of B.C. get dragged to an international extreme, to the extent that many can no longer afford to live in the communities they were born and raised in.
“This budget includes 2,000 additional units of affordable housing, which is a start, but this government has dragged tens of thousands of citizens into an affordability crisis.
“This budget provides no relief for low-income renters. Rental assistance programs are simply being maintained at current levels, which is completely inadequate in the face of the out of control rental market. Those struggling to pay rent and seniors struggling to stay in their homes as they age find no help in this budget.
“Now, instead of helping those most in need, the B.C. Liberals are catering to their friends at the top and the demographics they think will vote for them.”
Medical Services Plan Premiums
“The reduction in MSP premiums is a welcome change for many, particularly those with moderate incomes, for whom the premiums are a significant drain.
“However, MSP remains a flat tax, with someone making $42,001 per year paying the same premiums as someone making $120,000.
“Moreover, this government made no commitment and provided no timeline for how they will eliminate MSP premiums entirely.”
“Refusing, for the 10th year in a row, to increase social assistance rates is an unconscionable decision. This government is boasting about posting surpluses, yet we have the third highest poverty rate in the country, and this government has refused to increase social assistance rates for the past 10 years. People surviving on social assistance today receive only $610 per month, the same rate since 2007. They rely on food banks to eat.
“The prevailing ideology of this government is that jobs are the only pathway to dignity, and that people on social assistance are simply choosing not to work, and therefore do not deserve adequate support, nor do their children deserve adequate support. ”
“This budget is noticeably silent on funding for seniors care.”
“The B.C. Liberals are still banking on an LNG future for the province, with no mention of wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, or renewable resource development. In fact, the only mention of clean energy in the budget document is made in reference to the ‘Site C Clean Energy project.’
“Eliminating PST for commercial customers strikes me as a transparent giveaway to try to incentivize a non-existent LNG industry and rationalize the construction of Site C dam.”
“The budget items on ‘environmental protection’ would be laughable if they weren’t so devastating for the environment in our province.
“The B.C. government’s selective protection of wildlife is a disaster. They’ve let the biodiversity of our province become more endangered than anywhere else in the country and destroyed habitats to the point of local extinction. We have more at risk species than any other province – but this government singles out caribou – and only caribou – for protection. Caribou recovery is, of course, a praiseworthy initiative, but these populations are in crisis because the government permitted the destruction of their critical habitat in the first place.
“In this budget we get more money for park rangers and campsites. While welcome investments, they have more to do with people than the environment. The 1,900 new campsites will be built into existing parks, replacing wild habitats. There will be no additional funding in the next three years for the Conservation Officer Service or the environmental protection, sustainability, or enhancement initiatives.
“Regarding clean transportation, they’ve neglected innovation in favour of merely re-announcing an old program.
“Instead of actively supporting the expansion of clean transportation, this government is merely providing static funding for an existing program, premised on an assumption of no increase in demand.”