As I write this report, I am clearing off my desk at the Legislature before the Thanksgiving long weekend. I am looking forward to spending next week back in my communities where I will have the opportunity to talk with you and hear what is on your mind.
I know that I will meet with parents who care about their children, with seniors and the family members who love them, and with volunteers who are working to make their community a better place to live. I will meet with people who have clearly established priorities; they put children, seniors and their community first.
The last two months in the Legislature have made it absolutely clear to me that our government does not share our priorities. This is a government that is willing to put children at risk, reduce services to seniors and gut community programs with no regard to the impacts.
This government wants us to believe that we all must suffer because economic times are tough, but you don’t have to dig very far to find that some sectors are doing better than others in British Columbia.
Who are the winners and who are the losers in these examples?
The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) will transfer a $1.9 billion tax burden away from corporations onto individual tax payers. For instance, a senior couple on a fixed-income will spend more than $1000 a year extra just on HST.
When former Finance Minister Carole Taylor eliminated the Corporate Capital Tax on financial institutions she eliminated $100 million a year in tax revenue that previously funded healthcare and education.
Health Minister Kevin Falcon has just announced that the cost to seniors for residential care is going up as much 29% starting January 2010. Seniors with yearly incomes as low as $22,000 will pay a further $2000 a year for residential care. That’s a whopping $53.7 million that is being taken out of the pockets of vulnerable seniors.
Here is a shocking fact: post-secondary students will contribute more to general revenue through taxes by 2011 than corporations will contribute through corporate income tax. Think about that one for a minute.
In my communities, we believe that we all need to work together to build our communities. We believe that our tax dollars should be spent building a healthcare system that works for us when we need it. We believe that our tax dollars should provide high-quality education for all our children. And we believe that our seniors deserve quality affordable care.
Each day, in my work as your MLA, I remember the message that you sent the government on Election Day. In Columbia River-Revelstoke we believe that every sector has to make a contribution. And we want a government that places the highest priority on protecting the public good.
Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke