EDITORIAL: Peter, Paul and be wary

The immediate reaction to Tuesday’s provincial budget release by the NDP government ran the gamut from applause to expressions not printable in this newspaper.

That’s likely to turn out to be the long-term reaction, as well.

When a government rolls out an announcement of increased or improved public services (yay!) it typically comes with a corresponding jump in taxes (boo!). It’s the classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Therefore, your reaction to the budget release probably depended on your name. Paul likely enjoyed a pretty good day, but rest assured, Peter was not happy.

Within the first hour following the budget announcement, groups representing and advocating for unions, the environment, contractors, child care, housing, health care and mental health, the energy sector and education all quickly fired off their first impressions through news and social media releases.

Many of them split their vote, saying the government did something beneficial over here, but needs to do more — or anything — over there.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation criticized the shift of health-care funding onto employers through an increased payroll tax, which follows the government’s commitment to eliminating individual MSP premiums. This could have a chilling effect on businesses, large or small, that are riding on the margins of profitability.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce said the payroll tax will stick businesses with a $1.92 billion MSP tab by 2020.

In a worst-case scenario, that could depress new hiring and potentially hinder efforts to attract investment.

On the other hand, the Canadian Mental Health Association cheered what it called long-overdue investments in affordable housing, child care and Indigenous rights and reconciliation.

And seniors will once again enjoy free ferry rides Monday through Thursday, after having a half-fare rate instituted a few years ago.

The government’s efforts to rein in an out-of-control real estate market will hammer non-resident speculators like Peter with a four-fold hike in the tax penalty. But wait, what’s this? A boost in the transfer tax for those who sell their own principal residence, as well?

Some days, it can feel like we’re all Peter.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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