VICTORIA—B.C. Finance Minister Carole James’s first full provincial budget continues the new BC NDP government’s work in turning the page on 16 years of BC Liberal governments, introducing new programs and additional funding to make life fairer and more affordable for British Columbians, CUPE BC President Paul Faoro said today.
“The new government’s first full Budget represents a big step away from the record and direction of the BC Liberals. For 16 years, provincial budgets from the BC Liberals focused on the wealthy and well-connected and the big corporations that bankrolled their election campaigns,” said Faoro. “This budget takes action on the most pressing issues of the day facing people all over the province.
“Turning government policy around has been likened to changing the course of a ship—neither can turn on a dime,” said Faoro. “But Premier John Horgan and his team—with support from the Green Party Caucus—have been remarkably effective at shifting government policies and initiatives so that they align with the values and concerns of a majority of British Columbians.”
Budget 2018 fulfills the BC NDP’s election campaign promise to fully eliminate the regressive Medical Services Plan tax, a significant saving for individuals and families, and it begins the implementation of a provincial child care program focused on quality, affordability and accessibility. The budget also allocates additional new funding for K-12 and post-secondary education, as well as transportation and other infrastructure projects.
“I know our members will be glad to see the focus on improving affordability in this budget, particularly as it relates to child care and housing,” said Faoro. “It’s not just CUPE members in the Lower Mainland facing the massive increases in the cost of housing and the scarcity of quality, affordable child care; it’s a growing problem all over the province.
“It wasn’t too long ago that a BC Liberal finance minister dismissed the growing cost of housing as a problem that impacts just a ‘few Vancouver neighbourhoods.’ The new government clearly understands that action must be taken on both demand and supply in the housing market. While change isn’t going to happen overnight, the initiatives in Budget 2018 are great first steps towards tackling this very difficult and complex issue.”