Not a people’s budget

MLA Bob Simpson doesn't like budget

Forgive me for thinking that the Minister of Finance is supposed to be the Minister of Finance for the Province of British Columbia, not the Liberal Minister of Finance caught between two premiers.

 This is not political rhetoric, but a fundamental question about the very nature of our democratic process.

Looking at this week’s budget the answer seems clear, as this was a purely partisan political budget; one which continued the downsizing and restructuring of government initiated by Premier Campbell (including the HST), while, rather than addressing critical and time sensitive policy, program and public service needs, it parked billions of tax dollars in slush funds to help Mr. Campbell’s replacement put their own stamp on the next budget, whenever that one is presented later this year.

 This slush money could have been used to address child poverty, improve senior’s care, add resources to mental health and addictions services, restore gaming grants, fund relief for the agriculture industry, fund a permanent predator control program, restore the annual facilities grants for schools, invest in community wildfire protection and forest health activities, provide continued funding for the Organized Crime Task Force in the Interior, reinvest in school nutrition programs, provide funding to early intervention therapy and autism services, increase funding for transition house programs, and extend broadband services into rural remote communities.

 This list comes predominantly from the Finance Committee Report on the Budget Consultations for 2011 – a committee that held 17 public hearings, heard 233 oral presentations, received 373 written submissions and had 698 respondents to their online survey. The 59 recommendations from this Committee would have been a great starting point for this year’s budget in the absence of any “new direction” from a yet to be determined premier.

 Instead of a “people’s budget,” however, we got a “political budget” in the worst sense of that word.

It doesn’t have to be this way: please email every Liberal and NDP leadership candidate demanding reform in our political system to ensure that ministers and MLAs first responsibilities are to the citizens of this province and not to their parties’ prospects at the next election.

Bob Simpson is an independent MLA serving North Cariboo.