“The Premier is cherry-picking her numbers and ignoring the impact on real people,” said Aaron Ekman, Secretary Treasurer for the BC Federation of Labour. “Working people aren’t living on the Premier’s “Island of Prosperity” – they are paying more taxes, higher fees and increased fares every time they walk out the door.”
VICTORIA – Budget 2016 offers no relief for working British Columbians already struggling under rising user fees and taxes, declining services, and lack of job opportunities, says the BC Federation of Labour.
“Once again, Christy Clark is big on talk and yet fails to support the very people who keep our province moving forward every day,” said Aaron Ekman, Secretary Treasurer for the BC Federation of Labour.
“The Premier is cherry-picking her numbers and ignoring the impact on real people,” said Ekman. “Working people aren’t living on the Premier’s “Island of Prosperity” – they are paying more taxes, higher fees and increased fares every time they walk out the door.”
Ekman questioned the Premier’s priorities in this budget. “Instead of funding school band programs, the Premier paid $15 million for a photo op with Michael Bublé.”
“Instead of investing today in people, jobs and training, and vital public services, the Premier is diverting $100 million to create a fantasy future fund, based on fantasy LNG revenue,” said Ekman. “It just doesn’t make any sense when people are struggling to make ends meet right now.”
“This government needs to help British Columbian workers today – with real investment in job training and apprenticeships, heath care, education, and raising the minimum wage so workers are not living in poverty,” said Ekman. “We don’t need talk – we need real action.”
The budget has an aggressive capital infrastructure plan, but absolutely no commitment to hiring British Columbians first. “We were hoping to see government commit today to putting a 25 percent quota of apprenticeships on all public projects so we are training the next generation of skilled workers.”
Despite Premier Clark’s rhetoric, job creation has been largely in part-time positions in low-wage sectors. BC has the lowest average wage in the country for new vacancies. “Hardly the kind of stable, secure, well-paying jobs the Premier promised.”
Here is are a look at some of the winners and losers:
Winners — Starting Jan. 1, 2017, all children will be exempted from medical-service-plan premiums. Low income families, individuals and seniors will also benefit from lower premiums for those earning up to $51,000.
Winners — Those who buy newly-constructed houses and condominiums priced up to $750,000 are exempt from the property transfer tax.
Winners — Monthly disability income assistance rates go up by $77 per month, but that replaces monthly transportation subsidy for the one-third of those on disability who get the benefit.
Winners — Public-sector employees benefit from the improved economy by getting a dividend on wages of as much as $1,298 or .45 per cent that had been written into their last contract.
Losers — Another tax tier has been added to the property transfer tax. Those who buy property over $2 million will pay a three per cent tax on the cost above the $2 million threshold. The current tax of one per cent up to $200,00 and two per cent up to $2 million remains unchanged.
Losers –Government said it will work with the movie and TV industry to review the film tax credit as the lower Canadian dollar already offers a discount.
Losers — Someone who buys an older home under $750,000 still has to pay the transfer tax, unlike those who buy a newly built home.
B.C. LNG prosperity fund to get $100M contribution, but not from LNG
The B.C. government will also set up a $100 million Prosperity Fund but the revenue going into the fund is not linked to LNG revenues but will be taken from the MSP windfall.
BC NDP finance critic Carole James called it ‘a Premier Christy Clark fantasy fund’.
“I don’t think we’re seeing a prosperity fund today. I think in fact what we’re seeing is a Premier Christy Clark fantasy fund,” said James.