Editorial — A 'hold the line' provincial budget
The 2014-15 provincial budget offers little in the way of new programs or directions for the provincial government. It focuses on running a small surplus, while holding the line on spending.
Taxes for smokers are going up, which when coupled with recent federal tax increases, add up to almost 75 cents per pack of cigarettes. Once again, the province is hitting up people to pay more towards the cost of the health care system. Medical Service Plan premiums will rise another four per cent. B.C. remains the only province where residents pay directly towards health care, in addition to the amount they pay through general taxation.
What is surprising is the “hold the line” approach on education spending. When coupled with the province’s stinging loss of a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court and ongoing negotiations with the B.C. Teachers Federation, the budget will make an accommodation with teachers almost impossible to achieve.
A hint as to the tax structure to be applied to liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants is offered in the budget, but this seems to be just an opening step in negotiations, given that B.C. is competing with other jurisdictions for this business.