Carole James, Finance Minister
Carole James, B.C. New Democrat  spokesperson for Finance
Carole James, B.C. New Democrat
spokesperson for Finance

Victoria: British Columbians already stretched to their limit will face more fee and rate hikes in 2015, continue to get less in services, and pay for Premier Clark’s tax cut to the highest-paid British Columbians as a result of the B.C. Liberals’ budget.
While low and middle income earners need a break, they face instead another four-per-cent hike to MSP premiums, a six-per-cent hike to hydro rates, ferry fare hikes, higher tolls, park fees and ICBC rates.
The average yearly Hydro bill has gone up $524 under the B.C. Liberals. Basic ICBC coverage costs hundreds of dollars more per year. Medical Service Plan premiums have doubled since the Liberals took office by a whopping $864. If you need to use a ferry or there’s a new bridge between your home and your job, you’re paying more.
As if being nickeled and dimed by hidden taxes, fees and fares wasn’t enough, middle class families are going to pay to give a break to British Columbians who need it the least. This $230 million tax cut will help only the highest-paid 2 per cent who make more than $150,000.
On the other side of the family budget, wages aren’t keeping up. In fact they’re falling in real terms. From 2006 to 2012 B.C.’s real wages actually fell by 2.4 per cent. Youth in particular have dimmer prospects; young people in Vancouver with a post-secondary degree have the lowest median incomes of Canada’s 10 metropolitan cities.
While families are paying more and making less, they’re also getting less in services like schools, hospitals and seniors’ care.
Families concerned about security and dignity for their parents are seeing fewer home care hours and lowered standards in nursing homes. Instead of quality health care being there for families where and when they need it, the B.C. Liberals’ budgets have produced overcrowded hospitals, and not enough family doctors or nurses. Under Christy Clark, B.C.’s classrooms have become harder to learn in and harder to teach in, with some of the lowest funding of any Canadian province.
At a time when parents and young people are worried about opportunities to gain skills and training, the Clark government with this budget is cutting $14 million from higher education.
Since Premier Christy Clark was sworn in, more than 38,000 people in B.C. have simply given up looking for work. More than 150,000 of the jobs lost during the 2008 recession have not been replaced.
Premier Clark placed a risky bet on liquefied natural gas. We all recall the extravagant promises she made to voters in 2013 – a debt-free province, an end to sales taxes, 100,000 new jobs and a $100-billion prosperity fund. Each of these commitments has been quietly dropped as her government fumbles its so-called top priority. The cost of the premier’s neglect has been felt in industries across the province. In forestry, 25,000 fewer people are working since 2001. In mining, 1,500 miners have been put out of work in the last four years. While the technology sector worldwide is growing, B.C. lags behind other provinces in graduating students from engineering, science and other tech programs. I don’t know of a clearer illustration of a premier who has lost touch with real life for British Columbian families.