EDITORIAL: Restraint focus of B.C. budget

The new B.C. budget is among the most restraint-minded handed down by a provincial government since the 1980s.

That’s the word from Bob Plecas, who should know. He was a deputy minister in the Bill Bennett Social Credit government of the mid-1980s, one which brought down the infamous “restraint” budget in 1983. That prompted the Solidarity movement and brought B.C. perilously close to a general strike.

Plecas was in the budget lockup in Victoria on Tuesday. Now retired, he is a regular commentator on provincial affairs. Few people know more about how the provincial government works.

The budget contains a few surprises, but no major shifts in policy. The current deficit is now projected at $2.5 billion, down a bit from $3 billion. Medical Service Plan premiums are on the rise again – 22 per cent in four years.

There is no HST relief for people who wish to do home renovations, except for seniors. It’s too bad it won’t be extended to everyone, at least until the PST returns next April 1.

The $10,000 grant to first-time home buyers is a welcome and surprise addition. First-time buyers should look at prices carefully, and see if the grant will allow them to buy.

The carbon tax will be reviewed, and it is possible that it could be eliminated. While B.C. broke new ground when it brought the carbon tax in, no other jurisdiction has followed its lead.

A recent study indicates that coal is a much greater source of carbon emissions than oil and gas. This should cause the government to pause.

If its real concern is carbon emissions, perhaps it needs to consider how much B.C. coal is being exported – with no carbon tax of any kind being applied.

The government focus on restraint is necessary, but it must also examine how taxes impact individuals and the environment.

– Langley Times

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