Feb 19, 2013

BC Budget 2013 News Release

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We will be posting more commentary on the budget in the coming days; this is our news release from today’s budget lockup.

Budget may be “balanced,” but lack of action on poverty, climate creates  serious social, environmental defecits

(Victoria) The 2013 BC budget focuses on balancing the budget at the expense of British Columbians’ present and future wellbeing. That’s the conclusion of CCPA-BC economist Iglika Ivanova.

“The Finance Minister talks about the need for continued discipline, for tough choices to control spending,” says Ivanova. “But years of tax cuts have created unnecessary and avoidable fiscal constraint. We’ve starved key public services and left many of our social and environmental needs unmet. Those are real defecits that we don’t hear about.”

Ivanova praises the government for raising corporate taxes and personal income tax for wealthy British Columbians. However, she characterizes the increases as unnecessarily cautious: only a 1% increase in the corporate tax rate, and small, temporary increases for personal income taxes. “Our research shows that we can do more; the public is ready for tax increases that support an improved quality of life.”

The CCPA’s main concerns include:

  • The BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit, which does not kick in until 2015, is too small an amount to make a real difference for families: the benefit is $55 a month, whereas childcare fees range from $800-$1,400 a month.
  • MSP rates continue to rise and have nearly doubled since 2000. Families will now pay almost $140 per month in MSP, a regressive tax that no other province charges.
  • Even with the increase in corporate taxes, the province will be raising as much revenue from MSP premiums as from corporate taxes.
  • The lack of action on climate change is disturbing, as we see an increase in severe weather events and other consequences of climate change.
  • The continued lack of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan, even as most other provinces have created plans. BC has the highest poverty rate and the second highest child poverty rate in Canada.
  • BC is not getting a fair return on our publicly owned natural resources. Revenue from resource royalties is at a near record low, even as natural gas production is at an all-time high.

“Today’s budget puts short-term fiscal savings ahead of real, long-term investments in our province and our citizens,” says Ivanova

For more information or interviews: Sarah Leavitt, cell 604-253-7210 or sarah@policyalternatives.ca.

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