Feb 20, 2009

Numerically Challenged


The BC budget just doesn’t add up once you look at some of the details. Since the 2009 economy is shrinking, how can revenues from personal income tax be greater in 2009 than 2008, when the yearly economy was still growing?

A more for less approach seems to be endemic with the premier. When commenting on the federal government announcement that $50 million would be spent for housing on BC first nations reserves, Premier Campbell said “the federal money could drive the construction of ‘literally thousands of units’ in partnership with government and business” .

Now, let’s see, according to Joe Rekab construction costs for social housing have averaged $250-$260 per square foot (excluding costs for land and other charges). I guess the premier was thinking of very cheap housing. But even then the numbers do not add up.

Let’s assume that construction costs on first nations reserves would be $150 per square foot; and let’s further assume that the residents would pay $50 per square foot through their monthly rent. Further, let’s assume that the family units are small, averaging just 1,000 square feet or $100,000 in subsidized costs to build. Then the maximum number of units that could be built would be 500 ($50,000,000 / 100,000). A long way from “literally thousands of units”.

So, if the premier could not come even close to such a simple reality using conservative cost estimates, how far off could the provincial budget be from reality?

Not to worry though. Whoever wins the May election will bring down a new provincial budget. Then we will get to see how much of a ‘fudget-budget’ this really was.