VICTORIA—With its first post-Olympics budget, the BC Liberal government is worsening economic polarization and providing little relief to rural communities suffering from the economic crisis, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“This government talks a great line about ‘partnerships’ and ‘innovation’ when it comes to overseas investors and private development incentives, but not when it comes to strengthening our local economies,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.
“BC’s finance minister boasts about this province having the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7. That’s nothing to be proud of when we also have the highest child poverty rate in Canada.”
O’Neill noted that corporate income tax revenues are down 36.4 per cent.
This year’s budget provides no increase to post-secondary funding. It allocates $1.8 billion for post-secondary funding in 2010/11 – the same as last year. Furthermore, last year’s cuts to funding for public libraries are not being restored: nor are the annual facilities grants for the K-12 sector fully restored.
“This budget reveals a government that is coasting through the economic crisis,” said O’Neill. “With unemployment doubling from last year, continued cuts to the public sector, and working families facing a jobless economic recovery, the Liberals should have used this budget to rebuild B.C.
“We need to find additional revenues for resource-dependent communities that have been hit hard by the failing economy and the industrial property tax revolt. But the government is not showing any leadership on how to do this. Indeed, it will be cutting public service positions, thereby worsening unemployment. There is no vision for the real economy, no commitments to making things better for regular people.”
O’Neill concluded that the budget represents a lost opportunity for the BC Liberal government.
“There aren’t too many working families who will find the HST ‘revenue neutral’,” he said.