SURREY — It seems there’s something for everybody not to like in B.C.’s budget 2016.
Its ink hardly dry, critical emails came in fast and furious Tuesday afternoon after the budget was released, slamming it for this reason or that.
“The middle class was left behind today,” New Democrat leader John Horgan said.
The governing Liberals, on the contrary, were of course quite chuffed that they managed to balance the province’s budget.
“We’ve been following a prudent plan that includes a focus on paying down our direct operating debt, which is projected to be at its lowest point since 1984-85 if we stay on course,” said Finance Minister Michael de Jong. “A reduction in the operating debt means almost $500 million that would have gone to interest payments can instead be invested in priority programs for British Columbians.”
Highlights of Budget 2016 include a $3.1 billion investment in transportation infrastructure including highway upgrades and transit infrastructure, $2.9 billion for major health care projects that include a new centre for mental health and addictions, $2.5 billion for post-secondary schools, and $1.7 billion to “maintain, replace, renovate, expand and seismically upgrade” schools for students in kindergarten through Grade 12.
As for the critics, MoveUP president David Black said the budget “fails to make even basic investments to expand public transportation throughout the province.” CUPE BC President Paul Faoro said people are suffering “and only a few are sharing the prosperity generated by the economy,” and BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker gave it a fail. “The projected increase in funding is just another shell game that fails to account for increases in student enrollment and rising costs.”
Sue Hammell, NDP MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, slammed the budget for not addressed the problem of shadow flipping in the housing market.
“They have done nothing to address the market that’s flying out of control for the ordinary people of British Columbia,” Hammell said.
“It focusses on making sure people who are able to get by continue to get by,” she said of the budget. “Meanwhile regular people can’t pay their bills. They’re struggling.”