One could write the responses to the B.C. budget from various lobby groups months before any finance minister rises in the Legislature.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation, the B.C. Wilderness Committee, unions representing electrical workers or nurses: big shock they don’t like the latest budget, delivered Tuesday in Victoria by B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Mike DeJong.
The Independent Contractors and Business Association, the Association for Mineral Exploration, chambers of commerce: big shock they like it, to one degree or another.
Such is political life in B.C.: predictable and partisan.
Yes, they all have seemingly sound reasons for their like or dislike of the budget. Our favourite like this year is from the mineral association, which points to the expansion of skills training in high schools and the extension of the mining flow through share tax credit.
Our favourite dislike is from the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, which points out soaring BC Hydro rates while the government takes $410 million in BC Hydro dividends and declares the budget balanced.
We like the $15 million over three years for increased RCMP policing costs and $6 million for legal-aid-related services. It was good to see this as RCMP costs, and not just policing costs — city police forces need not apply, leaving more of that money for places like Parksville Qualicum Beach.
We like the multi-million-dollar commitment to both children and adults with special needs.
We like that it’s a balanced budget, with surpluses expected to rise to $451 million in 2016-17.
There is a continuing trend, however, that we do not like: Parksville Qualicum Beach getting specifically ignored.
Yes, we have a new health centre. But that $17 million was budgeted and spent years ago and doesn’t exactly bring us up to a Cadillac level of health care here.
This is the same kind of response we got from the B.C. Liberals (and the NDP for that matter) when we pressed about local issues during the election campaign in May, 2013 (zero local content). Like Parksville Mayor Chris Burger said last week, there doesn’t seem to be anyone championing the causes of the Island.
It’s no wonder the cynicism related to politics and politicians continues to grow and it’s no wonder most of our young people don’t even care to learn about how government works.
— Editorial by John Harding