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