BC Budget: Middle Class Takes Another Hit

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.

Harv Oberfeld

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25 Responses to BC Budget: Middle Class Takes Another Hit

  1. Crankypants says:

    To make things even less palatable colin Hansen revealed today that he was aware that the 495 million dollar deficit presented in the February budget was in jeopardy by 200-300 million dollars before the May 12 election. His spin is that this added shortfall could be made up by some cuts in certain areas to keep the deficit at 495 million. My question is that if he thought he could cover the extra 200-300 million, then why did he bring in a deficit budget? If after the fact he could cover the new shortfall then surely he could have covered the 495 million in the original budget. The more I hear, the more I am convinced that there was a lot of fudgit in the February Budget.

  2. Patrick Bell (Not the MLA) says:

    We’re done Harvey! They’ve got us by the “short and curlies” and they know it. What good would a recall do in 15 months? We don’t even have a viable option? James MUST step down and be replaced before the time comes….but, who will replace her? Not Gregor either (far too left)!!! The NDP has to retool itself and adamantly swear it will NOT pander to Unions if it remotely has a chance. A party needs to step up in this province and build itself on not being swayed by special interests groups….

  3. Wilson says:

    I gotta say; you were one helluva reporter in your day Oberfield. I am first timer to your blog but all of those years I watched you I never once realized you were a frothing at the mouth socialist. Well good on ya and enjoy the retirement and welcome to the middle class. We have been gittin’ it from the government for as long as I can remember.

    (Response: Sorry…no frothing at the mouth socialist. 🙂 Have you read what I’ve said about the NDP and their Vision cohorts? And I personally was able to retire early thanks to my capitalistic investments. I’m just a reporter who is trying to Keep it Real and who does not like lying or deceitful politicians … whichever party is in power. h.o.)

  4. Nancy Wynes says:

    After hearing about this latest budget I am even more convinced that this government is only interested in its people as consumers. It doesn’t want people to become “thinkers” – the “arts” and education are not valued and too bad about the sick, unemployed and homeless. Yet, where would we be without the “outside the box” thinkers, artists, scientists, etc.? I feel so sorry for the poor, sick, less educated, battered, homeless, jobless, hungry people who were faintly hoping for a little bit of compassion – isn’t that what governments are for? The blatant lies, hidden agendas and manipulation are astounding!

  5. DMJ says:

    Again, Mr. Campbell demonstrates his hatred of BC residents, by his cuts to schools, but there is a hint of another scandal – BC Lottery monies and the governments turning off the taps for arts and sports groups.

    Has the government dipped in lottery monies earmarked for other groups?

    There is a great scandal brewing in Ontario with the Ontario Lottery and BC seems to mirror events in Ontario.

    Can we stand another scandal?
    Can we stand having our kids go without, while Campbell lavishes billions on questionable highways and bridge projects?
    Will Campbell bankrupt the middle class?

    Tell you one thing, cash is king and I now can get cash deals at 50% cheaper than cheaque or credit card!

    Is Campbell and his massive downloading of taxes on the middle class creating a “black market economy” in BC?

  6. S.P. says:

    Any sensible person knew the economy had tanked by last December. The sensible part would disqualify any member of this present government. The 495 million dollar figure was pulled out of the air.

    Of course they had no time to tell us this during the election, they were all much too busy deleting emails………

  7. Leah says:

    That Mr. Hochstein would find this budget just tickety-boo is not surprising – when one takes a few moments to find out who said gentleman is, and how he works. Mr. VoteSmart BC! (For a start) Too bad so many people listened to him.

    I’m surprised by the number of people who are saying things like “well, you want medical paid for…the HST will pay for that.” Say what?! Are they really too blind to see this does not add anything to the coffers if it’s a truly revenue-neutral tax as Campbell wants us to believe? Can there still be anyone that gullible left in this province!

    Quite simply this budget is a scam, and a disaster built on the backs of those who can afford it least. But what else can one expect from the brilliant business brains behind the sale of BC Gas, BC Rail, BC Hydro…the list goes on.

    What a waste of taxpayers dollars goes into the salaries of those who work in the hole we call the Legislature. They justified those salaries by saying we have to pay more to get the best of the best…if this is what they mean by “the best” (ain’t that a horrifying thought?) then it’s time to fire everyone from Campbell on down – on both sides of the hall. They are ALL a disgrace!!

  8. Lynn says:

    I am of the opinion that business would rather their employees work for free and live on credit. A business owner once said to me “employees are pieces of s**t. They deserve nothing”.
    I agree the NDP need a new leader and quickly. For folks to say the NDP pander to unions is old school thought. Unions today are now more employer friendly. They have transformed into this as a means of survival. So do your homework before making that type of statement. Remember, consumers are employees. They purchase the very products employers produce and sell. If a consumer is NOT earning a livable wage they are not capable of sustaining an economy. More taxes equals a decrease in disposable income. We are cutting our nose of in spite of our face. Why aren’t we hitting the streets instead of bitching? What is it going to take to mobilise taxpayers to yell back? My god, they must be laughing at us in Victoria.

  9. wstander says:

    Capitalism is one thing, but Crony Capitalism is a particularly noxious form.

    Campbell is the poster boy for Crony Capitalism. That is why we have tax cuts that are more than offset by “fees” and “premiums”. Corporations and the rich benefit most from tax cuts. Individuals and middle class wage earners suffer most from increased fees and premiums.

    It is no coincidence that those who benefit from the tax breaks are the ones who contribute financially to the election of the BC Liberals.

    The MSP premium increase (hell, the MSP premium itself- I think we are the only province in Canada that has an MSP premium) is a good example of a tax increase that is not called a tax increase because it is a premium.

  10. Henri Paul says:

    B.C. gives liberals and Campbell four more years,Canucks give Luongo 12-year deal. In other words, B.C. people deserve the government they get, Vancouver fans deserve the cup they won’t get.

  11. Slimey Limey says:

    Sure glad we voted back in the only party with the experience to handle an economic downturn. More concrete and rebar for the non -union constuction companies to build more white elephants. That should fix everything.

    Kudos to Carol Taylor for baling when the writing was being written on the wall. A masterpiece of timing yes. To much class and she probably had had enough of sleazy politics and Gordo in particular running the show with the assistance of the compliant puppets surrounding him.

    Don’t think anyone will be hitting the streets, as long as enough self interested folks can keep making the payments on big shiny things and the credit card doesn’t max out nothing will change.

  12. Willy P says:

    I see that the restaurant and home builders are now getting consideration on the HST. I guess us lowly service providers aren’t making enough noise or we haven’t greased the right palms with donations. The shame is that a really small business gets a kick in the nards, but if you build homes or run an eatery, you’re good to go. I was hoping to be able to raise my prices a bit after a holding pattern for 4 years, but that’s going to the government. Disgusting, really. I’m a one man show netting a little over $35 g’s a year, now to become less. But we got money for (fill in the blanks)

  13. Patrick Bell (Not the MLA) says:

    Lynn. I’ve worked for unions and grew up around them all my life as my mother and father were both members of the IWA….I’ve done my homework! All you have to do is look back at the debacle the unions put the car industry through in Ontario….only recently. I agree, most unions have had to back off on their stance to survive…

    Now, I’m not totally anti-union as by having them it forces non-unions to keep their standards up. Case and point…private schools vs public….I work in a private school and the standards are much higher than they could be….I’ve seen low standards and very unprofessional behaviour in private schools, but that just resulted in a revolving door of employees as they’d just go off to work in the public system when the opportunity arose. I walked as well when a better opportunity came my way.

    Who do the vast majority of teachers, wood workers, etc vote for? You guessed it….and the NDP knows it.

  14. Bewlay says:

    Additional deficits of $1.7 billion (2010-11), $945 million (2011-12) and $140 million (2012-13) mean that over this four-year period we will add a whopping $5.6 billion to the province’s total debt.

    Based on the current ability of the BC LINO Party to predict deficits multiply that by 6!

  15. Dan R. says:

    I think too part of the problem is politicians don’t spend the money they get from taxes properly. I think there is a lot of waste. I think a rich country like Canada should have no problem providing programmes, health care but we also sell to much off.

    We only have 35 million approx but so much natural resources and we are in debt/deficits all across the country, including the feds. Something stinks I think.

    Like natural resources are sold but big companies, many foreign make way more profit than royalty fees they collect from oil, gas, mining etc and I believe all the natural resources should be owned by the government so the profit goes back to the people and maybe then taxes could go down for all. But that is not the ‘capitalist’ way so I doubt it will happen.

    Look at places like Norway where oil and gas is Nationalized and all the money they have, compared to places like Alberta where they are in deficit…and BC, SK, AB basically give it away, hell Campbell just gave them another break here.

    That is part of the problem, people see these huge corporations getting our resources for next to nothing and they are not happy as they (the people) have to pay more in taxes, when they do not.

  16. Ruaridh says:

    Securities Commissions across the western world (including B.C.) take a dim view of corporate managers and directors who fail to disclose material facts on which an investor (aka a voter) might base his/her decision.

    And so voters likewise should take a very dim view of the failure by Campbell/Hansen to disclose material facts before we all invested in the management of BC Inc.

    In my view, the HST and the foundering revenue streams were material facts that were not properly disclosed.

  17. Norman Farrell says:

    HST is even worse for consumers than first stated. It turns out not to be revenue neutral. According to the September budget they expect to raise $0.6 billion more in sales tax. Since business will save $1.9 billion, that amount plus the increase comes from consumers. That is $2.5 billion more in a year.

    And, if you think overall prices will fall because business saves on sales tax, I have a trainload of coal to sell you cheap. It’s sitting in Delta now, just pay me cash and it’s yours.

    http://northerninsights.blogspot.com/2009/09/hst-wound-spreads.html

  18. genuine says:

    It makes me wounder,at times…?People seem to equate if you don’t want to get fleeced anymore,people stigmatize you as a socialist!So if a socialist is somebody that wants to contribute to society as a whole ,instead of a privileged few who get all the spoils,whats wrong with that?Do you see what I’m getting at?(just a question )

  19. genuine says:

    It makes me wonder at times…?People seem to equate not wanting to get fleeced anymore with socialism !So if a socialist is somebody that wants to contribute to society as a whole instead of a privileged few who get all the spoils,whats wrong with that?Can you you see what I’m getting at? We get to pay and they get play! geeze louise

  20. crh says:

    The question then becomes,

    What came first, the individual or the union member? Unions are made up of individuals.

    The NDP receives the majority of donations from individuals. If you want to diss people for wanting someone to represent them, that is your choice.

    Campbell/ Liberals represents big biz and NDP represents individuals.

  21. genuine says:

    crh and that’s why the hst was brought in a large tax shift and our medical premiums rising is just icing on the cake and the media hardly flinches,this my friends truly is an outrage,don’t forget Sept 19th let’s get uot there and show them we mean business or we aint seen nothing yet when the media breaks down it’s up to us to show the world of the way their breaking down democracy,all these new taxes I don’t care what they call them premiums,tolls there taxes let’s wake up and give them hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Crankypants says:

    Does anyone out there know how much of the health budget is covered by all the MSP Premiums collected by the province along with the transfer payments given to the province by the Feds? We always get this big spiel about how much the province directs to health care, which is a staggering amount, but how much is actually covered by these two sources.

  23. genuine says:

    Crankypants roughly 2.8 billion dollars,but I’m sure we could foi it .

  24. genuine says:

    thats just the msp premiums of course,and now the premiums are being raised !for the next three years! YIKES! the only province in Canada with premiums,but don’t forget we are the test subjects and I’m sure the rest of Canada will join in to save health care and the cuts keep coming,I refuse to believe Canadians are that stupid,we are just forced into these ideologies of corrupt parties to be raped and pillaged in a friendly and politically correct maner,unless we stop it it’s going to continue so get used to it or let’s take our rights , forefathers fought for before they take them and our wealth away from us !

    (Response: How much I learn on here! Are we really the only province where people pay health premiums??? Must check into that! h.o.)

  25. Irv L says:

    Harvey: Do you remember when Gordon Gibson Sr. called a member of the Legislature a Liar? and was expelled until he apoligized..he came back and said”I apoligize to the honorable member,BUT from here on in I wish he would stick to the truth!..he was expelled again…Irv

    (Response: Those WERE interesting times when being called a liar was a serious thing. Today even REPEAT liars dont seem to even blush. h.o.)

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