VICTORIA – Today’s provincial budget puts the final lie to the Liberal election promise of a real tax cut by bringing down a heavy ax on the province’s poor, middle- and low-income earners.
“This budget completes the Liberal plan of creating two realities for British Columbians,” said Barry O’Neill, president of CUPE B.C.“Corporations and the top 10 per cent of income earners get a tax cut. And now the tax cut gets paid for by premium increases, sales tax increases and service cuts to our communities.
“It is the final abandonment of fiscal accountability and social responsibility by the Campbell Liberals,” O’Neill added. “This budget hits us where we live. It will hurt our communities deeply.”
- In higher education, for example, the Liberals are saying they will increase the number of high school graduates. How? By cutting funding. They say they’ll increase the number of university entrants. How? By raising tuition fees. Even more astonishing, the budget eliminates grants to first-year students. If a low-income student does manage to get an education, they can look forward to paying for it with a $6-an-hour job, thanks to the Liberals’ two-tiered minimum wage.
- In social services, the Liberals are promising safer, healthier communities, but the budget numbers say otherwise. This budget targets the poorest citizens for the biggest hit. The B.C. Benefits Program is cut by $550 million. Spending on family and children’s services falls by a quarter.
- In public schooling, the Liberals talk of increasing “flexibility and choice” in public schooling, but they’ve increased funding to private schools and decreased it for public schools.
- In aboriginal affairs, they’ve reduced funding for land claims negotiations and will forge ahead with their treaty referendum even though it will further divide communities.
- The budget promises a more dangerous and unfair workplace. The scope of employment standards will be reduced and the goal of health and safety laws will be corporate “efficiency”.
- In the community, the Liberals talk about making citizens “safe”, yet they are creating a huge underclass of poor and disadvantaged British Columbians who will become increasingly desperate as the impact of this budget sinks in.
“This budget is an endless series of subtractions that add up to a huge zero for hundreds of thousands of British Columbians,” O’Neill said.
INTERVIEW AND PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: CUPE members, led by O’Neill, are rallying outside the Conference Centre today in protest against the budget. “Thousands of public sector workers, including CUPE members in many sectors, will be further hurt by today’s budget,” O’Neill told protesting members. “The services they provide and the communities they serve are under direct attack from this government.”
Ron Verzuh, communications representative,
604-785-1422 (cell) or 604-291-1940.