B.C. is not broke

BC has gone from being an economic punch line under the NDP to being an envied economic headline under the BC Liberals

To the editor;

I’ve noticed that a common tactic of the NDP as of late is to claim that the province is broke. It’s a false claim and invariably blended with the same empty rhetoric and partisan nonsense, devoid of fact and context, so often used by the NDP to mislead people into believing claims such as this.

The usual scapegoats are trotted out by the NDP and blamed for the government supposedly being in hock, and public services, like health and education, supposedly having been cut, neither of which is true.

Yes, taxes in BC. have come down under the BC Liberals, much to the chagrin of the labour-controlled NDP. However, not just for corporations and the one per cent as the NDP frequently claim. Taxes have also come down by 60 per cent for the average working family in BC (that’s over $3,000 per year) and have completely been eliminated for low-income seniors. Transfers to low-income earners have also been increased, bringing some equity into an unfair world and further reducing the unnecessary burden of taxation.

And contrary to the NDP’s accusations of fiscal mismanagement by the BC Liberals, the Conference Board of Canada stated on March 22 that BC has posted the “biggest increase of all the provinces in economic competence” and leads the nation in both the percentage drop in unemployment and in the percentage drop of those dependent on EI benefits over the last 12 months.

Couple that with the lowest debt-to-income ratio in the nation at 18 per cent (Canadian average is 38 per cent) and a solid triple-A credit rating (one of only a few triple-A credit ratings in the world), while also being on track to balance the provincial budget in 2014/15, and it’s easy to see why BC is considered to be the most fiscally responsible region in the nation.

True, the province’s debt will indeed grow this year, because the province continues to increase spending on vital public infrastructure like schools and hospitals. But there is no shame whatsoever in taking on debt if what you are buying has enduring value and the debt load is manageable with a viable plan to repay that debt – a plan which the BC Liberal government clearly does have given the above-mentioned facts.

And let’s not forget that by the end of the NDP’s last term in government, the province literally was broke. Eight deficit budgets, a 38 per cent increase in debt in the NDP’s first two years alone, and seven credit downgrades left BC in the position where the NDP had to cut services and stop infrastructure development, making BC a “have-not province.”

The only single budget the NDP balanced from 1991 to 2001 was just before their final election as government. Just a month after their victory, the NDP admitted the whole thing was a sham and that we were actually billions of dollars in the hole. They had just temporarily hidden their massive debt in shell companies to make it appear that they were fiscally competent. This was the infamous “Fudge-it Budget,” and curious readers can ask NDP leader Adrian Dix all about it because Dix was there at the table when that budget was created.

The bottom line is that BC has gone from being an economic punch line under the NDP to being an envied economic headline under the BC Liberals because we tamed public spending, focused on getting good value for our dollars (not just appeasing special interest demands), and put more money in people’s pockets so they could create the economic activity that generates the tax revenue needed to fund our vital public services.

So, no, BC is not broke. But if we were to take the advice of the NDP, we certainly would be.

Hector D. Bremner

New Westminster, B.C.