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BC Liberal Budget Balanced On Soaring Rates And Clark’s Overly Enthusiastic LNG Windfall

Without Crown Corp Revenue Budget Would be Deficit, Say Critics!

“There is a $32 increase for everyround trip a family makes on B.C.Ferries between Victoria andVancouver, hydro will cost theaverage family $477 more over thethree-year fiscal plan and medicalpremiums will add up toanother $400 for families,” saidNew Democrat finance criticMike Farnworth.

VICTORIA – The 2014 budgetmakes families pay the price forB.C. Liberal mismanagement,said New Democrat financecritic Mike Farnworth in hisbudget response presentation inthe legislature Wednesday.“The bottom line of this budgetis that life will be much lessaffordable for families, and theblame for the cost increases liesat the feet of the Liberals andtheir mismanagement,” saidFarnworth.“The Liberals have failed todeliver jobs, and they’ve failed todiversify the economy, ignoringkey industries such as forestry,mining, and the tech sector.“They’ve put all of their eggs inthe LNG basket, and they’reeven messing that up. Theyfailed to meet their own timelineon delivering a taxation framework,their promise to have aplant up and running by 2015 isbroken, and their fantasy prosperityfund is nowhere to beseen.”Farnworth said all of this mismanagementis happening whilethe provincial debt climbs torecord highs – $69 billion by thetime the budget’s three-yearforecast plays out.“This budget makes it very clearthat B.C. families will be theones who pay for this Liberalmismanagement.”Farnworth said hard-workingpeople are going to see themselvespaying over $900 more infee and rate hikes by the end ofthe three-year forecast.“There is a $32 increase forevery round trip a family makeson B.C. Ferries between Victoriaand Vancouver, hydro will costthe average family $477 moreover the three-year fiscal planand medical premiums will addup to another $400 for families.”While British Columbians facesoaring BC Hydro rates of 25per cent, the BC Liberal governmentcontinues to take about abillion dollars from the crownutility per year including the dividend,water rentals and taxes toclaim a balanced budget, saysthe Canadian Office andProfessional Employees Union,Local 378 (COPE 378).The 2014 budget and fiscal planprojects the government’s BCHydro dividend alone to be$410 million.“People are squeezed thesedays,” said COPE 378 PresidentDavid Black. “Schools are strugglingto keep the lights on. Theresponsible thing to do wouldbe to keep the money in BCHydro instead using it to propup their budget. Really, they’removing debt off their backsonto the backs of the people ofthis province.”“This government created mostof the rate pressure through adecade of misguided energypolicies,” said COPE 378 LegalDirector Jim Quail. “BCHydro’s debt has ballooned dueto private power obligations,out-of-control deferral accountsand questionably managed capitalprojects. Instead of shieldingratepayers from the effects oftheir mistakes, the governmentis choosing to continue to takethe dividend and pretend asthough nothing is wrong.”B.C. is forecast to end the fiscalyear 2013-14 with a surplus of$175 million, with progressivelylarger surpluses forecast in allthree years of the fiscal plan:* $184 million in 2014-15.* $206 million in 2015-16.* $451 million in 2016-17.While the critics were hammeringthem on a budget built onbreaking the back of familiesand working people, the BCLiberals were touting it as a balancedbudget where the governmentis providing additionalfunding of $415 million to benefitB.C. families, help make lifemore affordable, and help stimulateeconomic growth and jobcreation.There were some goodies as thenew B.C. Early Childhood TaxBenefit. Starting in April 2015,the benefit will provide $146million annually to approximately180,000 families with childrenunder the age of six (up to $55 amonth per eligible child).First time home will pay lessProperty Transfer Tax, as theProvince is increasing thethreshold for the first-timehomebuyers program to$475,000 from $425,000, anexemption that can save the purchaserup to $7,500 when buyingtheir first home.However, critics were sayingBritish Columbians can expectto pay an average of nearly $900more over the next three yearsjust for hydro and medical premiumincreases under the budgettabled Tuesday, say NewDemocrats.Farnworth added that while theLiberals campaigned on makingB.C. debt-free, under ChristyClark debt has climbed fasterthan under any other premier inB.C. history.Tuesday’s budget showed another$7 billion added to theprovincial debt, which will climbto $69 billion by 2016.Canadian Cancer Societyapplauded the governmentcommitment to cancer preventionand tobacco tax increase.The government announced acommitment to fund innovativecancer prevention initiativeswhile simultaneously announcinga tobacco tax increase of$3.20 per carton of 200 cigarettes.

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