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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd February 2012
BC NDP
Offers nothing for families and the middle class struggling in tough times

Premier Christy Clark claims to represent change but her first budget shows almost no difference from previous Liberal budgets and continues to hurt working families and a middle class, said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston.

“After a decade of deceit and mismanagement, there is nothing here for families and the middle class looking for relief in tough times and hope for a better future,” said Ralston. “Education and skills training offers a huge opportunity to invest in our young people to meet the looming skills shortage and prepare for the jobs of the future.

“That’s why New Democrats have proposed investing in a student grants program to reduce barriers to post-secondary education. Yet the Liberals are offering nothing substantive here for education and skills training, at a time when a looming skills shortage has been clearly identified as a priority for British Columbia’s economy and jobs.

“The Liberal claim that they will deliver a balanced budget just in time for the election simply has no credibility. They have resorted to an asset fire sale to generate a tiny projected surplus in 2013, which offers no comfort the surplus is real or sustainable. The Liberals have sold out our future for the sake of their present political needs,” Ralston said.

“After the HST lie and the claim of a $495 million deficit going into the last election, how are we expected to believe a word this government has to say about its fiscal future?

“Today’s budget confirms that this is a government that is out of touch with the struggles of working families and the middle class and completely out of ideas for how to make their lives better. Clearly, families were not first in this government's thoughts as this budget was put together.”

This budget offers a tax cut for major airlines, but is sticking BC families with yet another increase in MSP premiums, the fifth increase from this government totaling over 85 per cent or $732 per year for families with children.

Spending for the premier's office is untouched, while universities and colleges are expected to make cuts and there is not a dime more to be found for student aid.

The budget also cuts funding for forest health by $20 million at a time when there is universal agreement our forests are in crisis. In addition, this budget completely ignores the financial impact associated with downloaded costs from the federal crime bill.

"Premier Clark had a chance to show that, after months of postponing tough decisions, she was ready to begin governing, but this budget shows no signs she has any vision or agenda beyond clinging to power,” said Ralston. “After a decade of deceit and mismanagement, it seems British Columbians are expected to endure more of the same.

"This was supposed to be a defining moment for Premier Clark and her government, but instead we are seeing a continuation of the Liberals’ failed legacy."