VICTORIA—The Provincial Budget announced today cuts jobs, reduces services for people who need them most, and continues the Liberal shift of the tax burden away from corporations and the wealthy onto the middle class, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“The government can’t have it both ways,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “They can’t say, on one hand, that the budget is all about protecting vital services while at the same time cutting funds for K-12 and post-secondary education, student aid and day care.”
School boards will be particularly hard hit by the Budget, facing more than $130 million cuts in both of the next two years. In addition, school boards will not be exempt from the Harmonized Sales Tax.
“And we’re not talking about frills with these cuts. Even repair costs that accompany seismic upgrades in public schools, such as roof replacements, mechanical and electrical system upgrades, and asbestos abatement, are no longer funded,” says O’Neill.
With post-secondary institutions also getting cuts in infrastructure funding, the condition of B.C. colleges and universities will continue to deteriorate, he adds. Working families and the middle class will have to eat new MSP and HST expenses, and students who can’t find jobs in the summer will have their student aid cut.
The BC Budget also hurts communities with cuts to community service agencies. Capital project grants, playground grants and three-year grants will no longer be eligible for funding this year from community gaming grants.
Nor is daycare exempt from the budget knife.
“How can the government boast about protecting vital services when they’re cutting daycare in the Downtown Eastside?” asks O’Neill, referring specifically to cuts at Ray-Cam Cooperative Community Centre in Vancouver, which lost three positions that work with special needs children.
“What all British Columbians expect is fair taxation. But middle class families will pay more in regressive taxes like the HST and the MSP while wealthy British Columbians will get more of the benefits from tax cuts. How is that fair?”