After a rather long delay, this year’s provincial budget was finally delivered last week. It came much later than the usual time of mid-February, and it contained an expected deficit of nearly $10 billion in this fiscal year alone.
The long wait has resulted in a lot of anticipation being built up around different sectors of our local economy including tourism, forestry, energy and resource development.
The average British Columbian taxpayer is also feeling a bit anxious and wondering how much government spending will be necessary to put our province back on track with a re-invigorated global economy.
Prior to this budget, I had been knocking on every door in Victoria to bring attention to the fact that rural British Columbia, home to all the natural resources in this province, is suffering greatly from the pandemic.
One of the first items I raised during the budget debate was the fact that people in Cariboo-Chilcotin are still waiting for their COVID-19 Recovery Benefit of either $500 for individuals or $1,000 for families, despite a promise from the Premier that everyone would receive a cheque before Christmas.
The real question remains: what is this government’s plan for economic recovery and where is its vision for a post-pandemic B.C.?
In just one year, we have gone from all the balanced budgets that were achieved under the previous BC Liberal government, to a $10 billion in the hole on the government’s credit card.
That’s a lot of extra debt to carry around over the next few years, but what can the average taxpayer expect from Budget 2021?
In spite of an additional $10 billion in spending, we did not anticipate a $1.1 billion cut to the health care budget.
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.