Vancouver (01 March 2017) — When the B.C. Liberals delivered a pre-election budget with uncharacteristic commitments to new spending, Finance Minister Mike de Jong boasted about the province’s ability to make service and program investments after so many years of discipline and sacrifice by British Columbians.
Budget includes overdue improvements to public services
Indeed — albeit on the heels of intense public and media pressure — there are welcome and long overdue funding increases to services for vulnerable children and families in this budget, says the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).
Much-needed capital investments in schools and health care facilities are planned.
There will be more rangers on the ground in B.C.’s provincial parks.
And for the first time in many years, instead of imposing cuts, the B.C. government is putting more resources into every single provincial ministry.
These investments in our public services and infrastructure — whatever their motivation — will make a difference in the lives of British Columbians.
Increases don't fully restore funding stripped away by Liberals
At the same time, it must be made abundantly clear that in most cases the new spending announced by the government serves to only partially restore resources that were stripped away in past B.C. Liberal budgets.
Thankfully, with this budget, post-secondary education spending will grow by $82 million (+4.4 per cent). But this money still leaves B.C. with per-student funding levels that, in real terms, are more than 15 per cent less than they were 15 years ago.
Funding for court clerks, sheriffs and others that provide court services is increased by $5.8 million in this budget. This is small comfort, given that the budget for court services has been cut by more than 10 times that amount (-$70 million, accounting for inflation) since the BC Liberals formed government in 2001. And the list could go on.
Read the full budget analysis here.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE