B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has announced several new promises, if his party wins the provincial election May 9.
He says an NDP government will increase welfare rates by $100 a month, and increase the income exemption by $200 a month.
He says he will bring back the seniors’ ferry discount on weekdays, and provide new funding for classroom supplies and equipment in elementary and high schools, as well as 114,000 new rental and co-op homes around the province.
He’s also promising a two per cent speculation tax for properties owned by people who don’t pay tax in B.C.
“We want to make sure that when people come to British Columbia, put down roots, they have a place that is a community. Not a place that’s half filled, and so expensive that people can’t stick around.”
His government will also provide no-interest loans for post-secondary students, and each will get a $1,000-grant for graduating.
Horgan says these and his other promises will increase operating costs by $3.5-billion over three years.
He says the growing economy will generate $3-billion in new revenue for the provincial government, and he will cut some of what he calls “waste” in the Christy Clark government.
“We have a three-year fiscal plan that shows balance based on the B.C. Liberal forecast. I’m committed to that, I’m committed to living within our means. In year one we’re going to do that, in year two and three we have to see what the Liberals have left behind us, it’s fully costed.”
A large part of cutting that waste, according to Horgan, is getting rid of what he calls Christy Clark’s “LNG Fantasy Fund.”
“You might remember she said there was going to be a $100-billion prosperity fund. Trying to meet that commitment she took $500-million from Medical Services Premium rates and put it into a phony fund. We’re going to take that $500-million and put it to work for British Columbians.”
Horgan says an NDP government will spend $7-billion on capital projects like roads and schools over five years and that will be added to the provincial debt.
This is all in addition to big docket promises already made, like 10-dollar-a-day daycare, getting rid of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears’ bridges, and a $400 annual renters grant.
How will Horgan pay for this?
John Horgan says tax increases to the wealthy and to corporations and getting rid of what he calls “the Christy Clark LNG fantasy fund” will create new revenue, and $7-billion in new capital projects will spur the economy.
But that $7-billion will be debt; so how will it impact the books?
“Our new spends on capital will lead to a one per cent increase in our debt-to-GDP ratio, which will still leave us in the same league as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.”
In fact, Horgan is also promising to balance budgets for the next three years.
“Is not possible”
Meanwhile, the Liberals’ Mike de Jong is accusing the NDP of “pledging a massive increase in spending.”
De Jong says the NDP’s plan “is not possible” unless one of two things happen: “an operating deficit, or massive tax increases,” adding it’s not sustainable and cannot co-exist with a balanced budget.
He says the party has been downright dishonest about the long-term effects of their spending.
“The NDP and Mr. Horgan have not been honest about the consequences of the plan that they have tabled today, as lacking in detail as it is, and I think they will encounter great difficulty.”
De Jong continues to say it would cost $4-billion per year if brought in, once again raising the spectre of B.C. losing its AAA credit rating.
“Mr. Horgan says ‘I don’t think there’ll be a credit downgrade, we just want to be like Alberta and Saskatchewan.’ Well, that involves a credit downgrade. And that involves British Columbians paying more money to service a debt, our existing debt, and paying more money when we borrow to build a school or a highway, or a hospital.”