So you thought I was over-exaggerating when I said the provincial government had opened a war front on the middle class?
The proof is now before us all in black and white: the latest budget update.
There is absolutely no doubt the big winners are business … and the bigger the business, the bigger the winner!
The latest government plan includes more than $14-billion in infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy in upcoming years. And that $350 million (does that really mean $400 million?) retractable roof for BC Place stadium is still in play.
The small business exemption will also rise to $500,000 a year from $400,000.And the HST rules will relieve business of PST taxes on supplies and equipement.
But of course, still no money to raise BC’s shameful minimum wage … now the lowest in the country, despite the province also having the highest cost of living!
The jobs created by economic stimulus and higher tax exemptions will be great for business; but to pay for it all … the HST, pulled out of the pockets of working consumers on just about everything they buy or spend. Where’s the fairness?
Should business, in a province that already boasts it has the second lowest taxes in the country …get even more? On the backs of others? Especially when the government is facing a $2.8 Billion deficit this year alone … and an estimated $5.6 Billion over the next four years?
And who will pay to keep the deficit from growing even biggger? Clearly not business. That’s where you come in.
Phil Hochstein of the Independent Contractors’ and Builders’ Association put it this way in a CBC interview:
“The increased spending on infrastructure is very prudent by the government. They are going get tremendous value for their construction dollars,” said Hochstein.
But Hochstein also felt the government could have done more to cut funding in other areas and bring down the deficit.”
Can you believe that!
The truth is the middle class will pay the highest price for this latest budget update . .. and those with even less will pay as well … through cancelled programs, services, grants. And so will the kids, not only in K to 12 through more budget restraints, but even college and university students through reduced grants and loans.
Needed repairs to schools … forget it! Arts funding … cut to the bone. Guess all those jobs aren’t that important. And yet …a new roof for a stadium to cater to private sporting businesses that measure revenues in the millions … not ruled out.
From CBC news:
( “This budget fails B.C. kids. It’s a cut. What’s happened here is school board block funding has been frozen in the face of rising costs, one of which have been imposed by this government,” said Susan Lambert, Vice President of the BC Teachers Federation.
School boards are already reeling from cuts to their annual facilities grants and other areas of discretionary spending, Lambert said.
“So, in fact ,what is going to happen on this budget is it is going to have a negative impact on classrooms. Class sizes are going to rise. Supports for children with special needs, in particular, are going to be eroded even more than they are today,” Lambert said.
At the post-secondary level, there will be big reductions in student aid funding, and overall funding will remain flat over the next three years, according to Dr. Paul Bowles, the president of the Federation of University Faculty Associations of B.C. )
The poorest of the poor will get some income tax relief …BUT up to 6,000 charity groups … helping our most vulnerable citizens .. will suffer slashed budget grants (no raises here!). And that will mean fewer services for the poor, the handicapped, the mentally challenged and social assistance programs for those suffering from all kinds of illnesses/disaeases.
True, there is an increase in the basic income tax exemption … but that will be more than wiped out by Medical Service Plan premium increases over the next three years.
And it’s a red herring to say taxpayers will “save” by not paying HST on home energy costs. How can you “save” on what you have never had to pay before?
Once the HST is combined with all the cuts announced today, the real impact on BC’s middle class and those below that will be more easily visible.
And unfortunately, so will the pain about to be suffered by so many who helped put the Liberals back in power … based on their campaign, and their promises.