Provincial budget fails to address BC's social deficits

February 15, 2005

(Vancouver) The provincial government’s pre-election budget, tabled today, fails to address BC’s social deficits, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“The government claims that its approach is balanced. Its approach for the last four years, however, has been anything but,” says Seth Klein, the CCPA’s BC Director. “BC has seen a significant redistribution of income from the poorest among us to the wealthiest. This budget fails to restore the deep and painful spending cuts of recent years. Spending outside health and education remains $1.2 billion lower than in 2001/02.”

“The Finance Minister now talks of helping low-income British Columbians, but this budget shows that none of the cuts needed to happen,” says Klein.

“While we are pleased that the bulk of this budget’s tax cuts are targeted to low- and modest-income earners, these measures should have been financed by reversing upper-income tax cuts,” says Klein.

“It is true that BC has seen an improvement in its fiscal situation in the last two years, but the turnaround is being driven primarily by increased federal transfers for health and equalization and windfalls from natural resource royalties and the property transfer tax,” says Marc Lee, the CCPA–BC’s Economist. “Personal and corporate income tax revenues remain well below 2001 levels.”

“BC’s fiscal situation is healthy,” says Lee. “Our debt-to-GDP ratio is now headed downwards. But this would have been the case without making a payment on the debt.”

“The government can afford to change course,” says Lee. “It’s projections for 2005/06 are very conservative, building in $670 million in forecast allowance and contingencies, and low-balling revenue projections.”

“This budget is a missed opportunity,” says Lee. “For example, spending on social assistance remains about half a billion dollars below 2001 levels, and the number of people receiving temporary assistance is projected to decline even further. Real per-student spending on K-12 education will rise next year, but it will not recoup 2001 levels.”


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