Feb 16, 2011

Status quo budget a reminder of BC Liberal failure: CUPE BC

VICTORIA—The provincial government’s self-styled “status quo” budget announced today is a damning indictment of BC Liberal policy over the past decade, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“The status quo means business as usual, and that is unacceptable to all but the richest British Columbians,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

“If there are any people in this province who have forgotten how bad this government has been, this budget will remind them. It will remind them of how little vision is left in the BC Liberal Party, and how little this government cares about average families.”

Under the 2011 budget, the government is relying more heavily on revenues from regressive taxes such as MSP, carbon tax and HST while cutting corporate taxes. Meanwhile, despite a stated commitment to literacy and life-long learning, the government has failed to restore library funding or help struggling school boards meet the needs of students.

“That’s the ‘status quo’ reality in B.C,” said CUPE BC general vice-president Paul Faoro, who attended the budget lockup. “It’s not ‘The greatest place on earth’ if you’re poor, if you’re in a low-wage job or if you’re in the public education system.”

Despite the government’s best spin efforts on the budget, child poverty rates in B.C. are still the highest in the country, and B.C. still has the lowest minimum wage. Plus, a recent TD Bank report shows that British Columbians are now holding record levels of debt. With interest rates forecast to increase, that will lead to even higher levels of foreclosures and bankruptcies.

Faoro also commented on the $1.15 billion reserved for contingency funds, which represents a more-than-$400-million increase from last year.

“The Finance minister calls it money to ‘help manage unexpected pressures,’” he said, “but we all know it’s a political slush fund designed to better position the new premier. And all the real contenders for that position have their fingerprints on this failed, ‘status quo’ BC Liberal legacy.”

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