Last week, the NDP government tabled its 2022 fiscal budget — a budget that was supposed to map out how it will support British Columbians and our economy so that we can put our province on the road to recovery.
Unfortunately, what British Columbians got instead was another less than status-quo budget from a government that has done little to make life more affordable for British Columbians. Spending big on small achievements and trying to tax your way to affordability is just bad policy!
There is no real plan to address the affordability crisis, as the cost of renting or buying a home continues to skyrocket and the cost of gas, food, and other basic amenities hits record highs.
Rather than cut British Columbians a break, John Horgan has decided to pile on three new or increased taxes to dip further into British Columbians’ pockets, including a new tax on online marketplaces, increasing taxes on the sale of used cars, and new taxes on the purchase of home heating systems that use fossil fuels, like natural gas furnaces.
Despite the fact that the Peace River region and countless rural communities depend on oil, gas, forestry, mining, and natural resource industries, the NDP’s budget offered no supports for these sectors and for the thousands of British Columbians who depend on them to put food on the table. We also didn’t see much new in terms of support for our fire and flood-affected farmers and ranchers. The budget simply touched on the previously announced federal/provincial Agri Recovery program.
Alarmingly, there are cuts coming for our rural roads and infrastructure, and the much-needed Taylor Bridge replacement has been left out of this budget.
Affordability is not the only crisis the Peace River region and the North are facing. We are in the midst of one of the greatest health crises of the modern era, and Northern Health is facing a critical healthcare staffing shortage that is shutting down emergency rooms and limiting the availability of doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals for the people of Fort St. John and the surrounding region.
The only increase to the Mental Health and Addictions budget is for more communications and advertising, and there is no plan to train and hire more healthcare workers in Northern Health.
This budget most certainly did not meet the needs of British Columbians, especially the needs of the North. I will be using my time in the upcoming budget estimates process to press government on why so much was left out, and what they will do to deliver better supports to Fort St. John as soon as possible.