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No minimum wage or welfare increases, few details on social spending in Liberal vision

BURNABY—Today’s throne speech by the BC liberal government contains some good news for business but offers little to British Columbians who will be hit the hardest as the province heads into a major recession, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said in response.

During a recession the first responsibility of government is to take care of people,” said CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “In this economic climate, raising welfare rates would be the right thing to do. But this throne speech says nothing about the poverty incomes of people on welfare or earning minimum wage.”

O’Neill said the Campbell government, in its final throne speech before the May 12 election, has lost the one opportunity it had to undue the damage done to people by cuts in social programs during its first term.

“We find it interesting that the tolls on the Port Mann Bridge will go up faster than the minimum wage,” said O’Neill.

CUPE is also concerned that the throne speech sends yet another signal that the provincial government intends to interfere with the right of local governments to manage their own taxes.

“With its plan for property taxes, the government has said it intends to further erode the right of municipalities to set priorities for their own communities,” said O’Neill. “This comes on top of an accelerated Trade Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) that will give corporations rights at the expense of local governments.”

O’Neill concluded that a new Wood Innovation and Design Centre planned for Prince George is good news, but that the government should have passed a law banning the export of raw logs.

“That would have given the province much more to ‘innovate’ with, rather than watching all those thousands of jobs disappear,” he said.