Skip to content

B.C.’s big $8-billon budget bust brings backlash from BC United

Paton said he didn’t see anything in the budget directly applicable to Delta
Ian Paton headshot profile
Delta South BC United MLA Ian Paton.

While higher interest rates have tamed inflation, B.C.’s new budget announced Feb. 22, could ratchet costs back up again, says BC United.

“This is the worst inflationary spending we’ve ever seen in B.C.,” Delta South MLA Ian Paton said. “I mean, these guys are unbelievable.”

He added that when he got elected in 2017, also when the NDP took over as government, the provincial debt was about $45 billion, and that it’s now just above $100 billion.

Someone will have to pay that back in the future, which will be our children, Paton said.

A BC United release said that this year’s budget deficit is the largest in B.C.’s history at $8 billion with debt per person moving from $8,540 in 2017 up to $21,542 in 2027.

However, B.C.’s debt-to-GDP ratio is forecast to be 21 percent for this year, which is below that of most provinces, says the Ministry of Finance.

According to a release from NDP Finance Minister Katrine Conroy, the province’s yearly deficit will drop to $6.3 billion by 2027, “with (total) debt expected to increase but remain affordable.”

Conroy introduced the budget last Thursday (Feb. 22) saying that in the face of global challenges such as inflation and high-interest rates, “we are taking on big challenges and supporting people to build a good life in B.C.

“Now is not the time to pull back,” Conroy added. “We will continue to prioritize affordability for people and families, and the services we all rely on, during this period of slow global economic growth.”

BC United also says it’s a “status quo budget for Mental Health and Addictions,” despite it being a record year for overdose deaths from street drugs.

The new budget also offers the B.C. Electricity Affordability Credit of $100 for this year on their hydro bills, which works out to about $9 a month, Paton pointed out.

“How does that help people, $9 a month?” he asked.

He also asked how the government will get money if it doesn’t focus on forestry, mining or LNG.

Big projects such as the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline to Kitimat, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Site C dam construction are winding down, so where will those workers go, he asked.

There was also no mention of agriculture in the Speech from the Throne or the budget, Paton said, although the government is adding another $83 million to help farmers conserve water and deal with drought.

“But making use of that money and getting results is what we need to see,” Paton said.

He added that he didn’t see anything in the budget directly applicable to Delta, noting that a shovel still hasn’t been turned on building the new Fraser River Tunnel Project.

The project has completed the early engagement phase of the environmental assessment and is now in the planning phase, says the government.

Some of the budget highlights include:

• the BC Family Benefit Bonus will increase the monthly BC Family Benefit by 25 percent for 2024. A family of four that’s receiving $2,850 a month, will now get $3,563. A single parent with one child, now getting $2,250 a year, will get up to $2,688. It’s not clear if those increases will follow in subsequent years.

Paton agreed with the BC Family Benefit Bonus. “Anytime you get a bit of a bump to your household for a child benefit, is always a good thing,” he said. But the NDP has added several new taxes over the years, he added.

“Eventually, the public of B.C. are paying for whatever kind of rebates they’re giving,” he said.

• a tax on the profit of selling a home within two years of buying it, to discourage quick resales of homes, takes effect in 2025, with exemptions.

• $43 billion in capital spending for schools, universities, housing, health care facilities, roads and other infrastructure

• increasing the payroll threshold for the Employer Health Tax from $500,000 to a million dollars means most businesses won’t have to pay the tax. However, BC United points out tax rate is doubling from 2.9 to 5.8 percent

• a $400 renter’s tax credit via income tax returns

• increasing the exemption from the property transfer tax to to the first $500,000 of a home’s price for first-time home buyers