Provincial budget provides little relief for families or middle class

Nanaimo's NDP MLAs are adamant the provincial budget offers little relief for families or the middle class.

Nanaimo’s NDP MLAs are adamant the provincial budget offers little relief for families or the middle class and doesn’t provide significant economic plans for the future.

“There is no particular vision articulated here and no significant plan for British Columbia’s economic future,” said Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog.

Increases to MSP Premiums and the fact families have another year under the HST, until it’s eliminated in 2013, is burdening families, said both Krog and Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA.

“It’s disappointing to see that families and the middle class looking for relief in tough times were not given any relief by their government,” said Routley, adding that MSP premiums are the “most regressive tax there is”.

Krog added that poor families won’t be able to take advantage of the Children’s Fitness Credit and Children’s Art Credit, which offers a non-refundable tax credit of 5.06 per cent of eligible expenditures up to $500 for each child, because families need money to initially pay for the programs.

Both MLAs said there was nothing to address forestry, when Vancouver Island companies such as Harmac are struggling for fibre. More money is needed to support secondary students to address skilled labour shortages and more action was needed on seniors’ care.

Ron Cantelon, Parksville-Qualicum Liberal MLA, said measures such as the B.C. Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit, which provides up to $1,000 for individuals aged 65 and older to renovate their homes, benefits seniors because they will be able to stay in their home longer, which contributes to health and long life.

And programs such as the B.C. First-Time Home Buyer’s Bonus, which provides a maximum credit of $10,000 for the purchase of newly built homes, will be helpful.

The government’s severe fiscal discipline has put the province in good shape to bounce back quicker and it’s encouraging to see exports increasing and business and growth revenue stabilizing, he added.

“We’ve been through one of the worst economic shocks the world has felt,” said Cantelon.

He said measures to find efficiencies in the health care system such as collective buying instead of individual purchases have saved costs, adding health care cost increases will increase at more

Routley said the fire sale of public properties isn’t the approach government should make to raise money. Krog agrees and says it’s poor policy and doesn’t plan for the future.

But surplus land such as that held by school districts can be sold to raise capital, said Cantelon, adding during subdivision expansions land is usually provided for schools.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com