MLA Report: Provincial budget will be central to spring session

Don't believe the BC Liberal numbers when they present their next budget, writes Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

Norm Macdonald is the MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke.

The B.C. Legislature will reconvene at the beginning of February and sit through until the end of May. The central part of the spring Session each year is the introduction and passage of the provincial budget for the fiscal year that runs from April 2016 until the end of March 2017.

The budget will include government spending of more than $44 billion on programs and billions more on infrastructure projects. Government will also expend a lot of time and money talking about the budget, but the actual facts will be found in the fine print of Ministry of Finance documents.

The BC Liberals will again claim to have a balanced budget, but that includes the sale of a significant number of provincial government properties. The Auditor General has stated that using asset sales to balance the budget is not sustainable; we all know that eventually you run out of things to sell.

There is also an ongoing use of BC Hydro deferral accounts, a shell game where BC Hydro borrows money and reports it as profit which the government then takes into general revenue. BC Hydro has put $5.4 billion into those deferral accounts, a significant amount that distorts the books.

Despite having Debt Free BC on the side of the BC Liberal campaign bus in the last election, provincial debt is growing faster under Premier Christy Clark than under any other Premier in B.C.’s history. It took 140 years for British Columbia to accrue a $30 billion debt, but since the BC Liberals have taken over that debt has grown to $165 billion, including contractual obligations. And that debt is expected to grow under this upcoming budget.

We can also expect BC Hydro rates to continue to increase. Medical Service Plan premiums will go up and ICBC rates are rising. Even with these escalating costs for British Columbians, we will see even further reductions in key health and education services.

Not everyone is losing out under the BC Liberals. Premier Clark will continue to cut taxes for the richest two per cent with a giveaway of $235 million. Imagine what that money could do if it was used to provide British Columbians with the services they need.

For example, I will be looking to see if there is any significant funding for the four-laning and dividing of the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border.

Norm Macdonald is the MLA Columbia River–Revelstoke. He can be reach at norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca and 1-866-870-4188.

Just Posted

Y2Y report warns of growing tension between industry and environment in Revelstoke

It includes 18 recommendations for land use, tourism, forestry, climate change and First Nations.

Healing with honesty: Justice served 40 years later

Revelstoke senior gets house arrest for sexually assaulting stepdaughter

UPDATE: Trans-Canada Highway closure extended until 4 p.m. east of Revelstoke

The highway was closed after a head-on collision between trucks early Dec. 6

Avalanche control west of Revelstoke today

Highway 1 to be closed for two hours

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

West Kelowna house fire demonstrates danger posed by candles

West Kelowna Fire Rescue says an unattended candle caused the Sunday afternoon fire.

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

Slippery sections reported on Okanagan and Shuswap highways

Some sections of the Trans-Canada highway have black ice on them.

Most Read