MLA Norm Macdonald slams BC Liberal budget

British Columbians need a government that will focus on strategies to promote economic recovery, but instead the BC Liberal government has introduced a budget that cuts public services and brings in the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

“I believe that people in this area will be disappointed in this budget,” he said in a statement issued after the BC Liberal government brought down its budget Tuesday.  “There is no indication that the BC Liberals have any plan to improve the lives of rural British Columbians.

“This budget is focused on cutting services to the public.  And it brings in the HST which people have been clear they don’t support.”

In what can only be seen as a desperate move to overcome opposition to the HST, the government has attempted to tie HST to healthcare spending.

“The government is now claiming that the HST is needed to fund healthcare when initially they claimed that the HST was revenue neutral.

“The bottom line is that the government promised not to bring in the HST before the election, and they broke that promise within weeks of being elected.”

With this budget, key ministries such as forestry will be seeing dramatic cuts which will result in lay-offs and a considerable reduction in services.

“I’m particularly concerned about the cuts to the Ministry of Forests.  The budget for this year is being reduced significantly and that is going to mean that at a time when we need to be investing in forestry, needed government services will be withdrawn.”

Once a primary industry in British Columbia, 30,000 forestry related jobs have been lost and 71 manufacturing facilities have been closed.

“The forest industry is facing serious difficulties and it will take a concerted effort on the part of government to rebuild the industry.  Forestry is based on public lands, and the government has a responsibility to provide stewardship to ensure a sustainable forest industry.  With these deep cuts to the Ministry of Forests it will be impossible to do the work that needs to be done.

“It seems instead that the BC Liberals have given up on the forest industry and in turn, given up on the rural communities where forestry provided family-supporting jobs and a strong industrial base.”

Forestry Budget Analysis from MLA Norm Macdonald

23% loss of operating funding since the pre-election budget

41.8% cut to Compliance and Enforcement, showing on-going and willful neglect of the government’s duty to protect forest resources

26.9% cut to Forest and Range Resource Management, the program that is responsible for the sustainability of our forests

24.7% cut to Pricing and Selling Timber, responsible for the development of new markets and product, community diversification and stability of forest dependent communities

HST Budget Analysis from MLA Norm Macdonald

“The hokiest part of the budget was the announcement that HST revenue would be dedicated to health care.  It’s an obvious attempt at phoney spin; all the money flows into general government coffers and is allocated as the politicians choose.”
Paul Willcocks, columnist, Times-Colonist,

Health Services Budget Analysis from MLA Norm Macdonald

$141 million less in 10/11 than forecasted in the pre-election budget, over $280 million less than forecasted over the next two years

$25 million (7.5%) less for Emergency and Health Services

$179 million (1.8%) less for Regional Health Services Funding

$15 million (1.8%) less for Pharmacare

Health services decreases have already resulted in cuts to seniors programs, surgeries, mental health programs, addiction programs, reduced MRIs, closed operating rooms, acute care beds and residential care beds, and increases in residential care rates for seniors.

The claim that the HST is to be targetted to health care spending is not only completely deceptive, it is potentially detrimental for long-term health funding.  Tying health spending to specific revenue streams is a set-up for future health care cuts.

Despite a 6% increase in the Canada Health Transfer from 09/10 to 10/11, there is no equivalent increase in health spending by the province.