VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 18, 2014) - The provincial budget introduced today misses a key opportunity to improve the lives of British Columbians, particularly those living at or below the poverty line, while at the same time placing additional financial pressures on the middle class and working families, CUPE BC President Mark Hancock said today.
"Once again we see the BC Liberals using Medical Services Plan premiums and Crown corporations as an ATM card, and they're continuing their fire sale of public assets to 'balance' the budget," said Hancock. "While the Premier campaigned in the last election on a promise that the LNG 'boom' would set BC on a course for unprecedented prosperity, the reality is, the government doesn't have a plan beyond wishful thinking.
"The BC Liberals and Christy Clark talk a good game on job creation, but their own numbers show they're predicting the unemployment rate will increase over the next three years. And they're investing less money, not more, in training and education for the workers we'll need for the future. It just doesn't make sense."
Hancock said the budgets for health care and education will be cut over the next three years, and that revenue from fees and service charges to individuals now outstrips corporate and income taxes.
"After twelve years of short-changing the most vulnerable British Columbians, we're pleased to see a small increase in funding for Community Living, but the new increases are a proverbial drop in the bucket and don't do anywhere near enough to improve living and working conditions in community living facilities," said Hancock.
Budget 2014 continues the BC Liberal government's sell-off of "surplus" public assets like schools and health care facilities.
"Just like last year's budget, the BC Liberals are continuing the sell-off of so-called 'surplus' government properties without any consultation with the impacted communities," said Hancock. "We'll never know how many local jobs or opportunities for entrepreneurs and economic growth those properties could have made possible.
"Finance Minister Mike de Jong calls this a 'boring' budget, but it's anything but boring for the low and middle income British Columbians who will be paying the freight."