Life has be­come more ex­pen­sive for Bri­tish Columbians, un­der the Lib­er­als

Asian Journal - - Editorial -

Vic­to­ria: Five years ago, Christy Clark made the claim that she would put fam­i­lies first if she be­came premier. What a dif­fer­ence five years can make. In her time in of­fice, life has be­come more ex­pen­sive for Bri­tish Columbians, from on­go­ing hikes to the med­i­cal ser­vices tax, to ICBC car in­sur­ance, to bal­loon­ing hy­dro rates. The premier’s ap­proach to B.C. Hy­dro is a great ex­am­ple of where fam­i­lies re­ally fall on this premier’s pri­or­ity list. In 2013, Christy Clark an­nounced a 28-per-cent hike to hy­dro rates, adding to the hikes her govern­ment has been re­spon­si­ble for, which is up to nearly 75 per cent since 2001. De­spite the bite this lat­est hike was sure to take out of fam­ily bud­gets, the premier of­fered no help to fam­i­lies strug­gling to make ends meet. But she did find it in her heart to help out min­ing com­pa­nies, who were of­fered a spe­cial de­fer­ral to cope with the sky­rock­et­ing rates. I don’t think that fam­i­lies should have to choose be­tween heat­ing their home and putting food on the ta­ble, so I in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion this week that would make sure they don’t have to. I first in­tro­duced the Hy­dro Af­ford­abil­ity Act bill, which would give low-in­come fam­i­lies ac­cess to a life­line rate, in 2014. Since then, the B.C. Lib­er­als have done noth­ing to re­duce the bur­den of taxes and fees in this prov­ince. Be­cause of that in­ac­tion, I re-in­tro­duced the bill on Wed­nes­day. The leg­is­la­tion would make sure that it’s not vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who are pay­ing the price for the B.C. Lib­eral govern­ment’s bad man­age­ment, which has driven up rates at B.C. Hy­dro. And it would make sure that, at the very least, strug­gling B.C. fam­i­lies get the same hand up as min­ing com­pa­nies. Hy­dro rates are just one of the many fees and taxes on the rise in this prov­ince. Un­der the B.C. Lib­er­als, life in this prov­ince has grown tougher, and it’s not just low-in­come fam­i­lies that are strug­gling. Middle class fam­i­lies, too, are grap­pling with the heavy bur­den of this govern­ment’s grow­ing fees and taxes. Just last month, Christy Clark’s bud­get hiked ICBC rates, and did noth­ing to make hous­ing in the Lower Main­land more af­ford­able. And de­spite a prom­ise from her govern­ment to over­haul the med­i­cal ser­vices tax, the premier just tin­kered around the edges, and con­firmed a hike to the tax both this year and next. It’s clear that Christy Clark just isn’t there for B.C. fam­i­lies, de­spite her old cam­paign slo­gans. She’s there for the mil­lion­aires in the prov­ince, who are en­joy­ing a bil­lion-dol­lar tax break. And she’s there for her­self – so far, the premier has spent half a mil­lion dol­lars in tax­payer money on pri­vate jets for her­self and her cam­era crew. She’s not there for the kids learn­ing in over­crowded Sur­rey class­rooms, the grand­par­ents treated in the hall­ways in Fraser Health hospi­tals, and she’s cer­tainly not there for fam­i­lies who can’t make ends meet be­cause of her govern­ment’s rate hikes. Peo­ple in this prov­ince de­serve bet­ter.

John Hor­gan

Leader of BC NDP

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