Taxes cut, investment boosted: B.C. United unveils economic platform

B.C. United Leader presented his party's economic platform Thursday in Vancouver
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B.C. United Leader Kevin Thursday presented his party's plan for the provincial economy. (edstrauss file photo)

B.C. United is promising to improve the provincial economy by cutting taxes, balancing the budget and opening up B.C. for investment — all at the same time.

Leader Kevin Falcon presented these proposals Thursday (June 20) in revealing his party's economic platform.

The first pillar calls for what Falcon describes as "dramatic, significant reductions in the tax burdens for British Columbians" to help them "thrive" rather than "just survive" in the province.

"The second (pillar) is balancing the budget," he said. "We will make sure that we balance the budget in our first term of office because fiscal responsibility still matters. We can't just run up massive deficits and debt and leave that to our children and our grandchildren to pay the bills of spending that's taking place today."

The third pillar calls for increasing private sector growth.

"The way we're going to do that is the way, we have always done it," he said. "We are going to eliminate unnecessary red tape as I did when it was in the Gordon Campbell government and reduced it by 42 per cent in three years."

When Falcon was asked how he plans to balance the budget without making cuts, he said his government would eliminate "the massive amount of waste" currently happening in government.

"We are going to make sure that this incompetence ends and that we utilize the saved dollars to ensure that we provide the tax relief that we are going to make sure British Columbians get," he said. "I'm going to be relentless about this. We are going to make sure that young people have hope in British Columbia again."

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy said in a statement to edstrauss that Falcon's plan would mean billions in cuts to health care and education over the next years or big increases in fees, with the tax breaks flowing to speculators and top income earners.

"Falcon is clear he would repeat the cuts he helped make in 2001, costing people by once again balancing the budget through higher MSP and ICBC fees, selling off public land, and cutting things like home care for seniors and child care for families," she said.

Conroy's statement also echoed comments from Premier David Eby, who has repeatedly tried to diminish any difference between Falcon and his B.C. Conservative rival John Rustad.

“When Falcon and (Rustad) were in cabinet they made deep cuts to the services we rely on to benefit their wealthy friends, and they've consistently said they'll do it again," Conroy said. "That doesn’t work for people or the economy."

Conroy called B.C. an "economic leader" in Canada, but also acknowledged that "people are facing big challenges" which she blamed on global inflation and high interest rates.

“People expect us to support them during tough times," she said. "Unlike Kevin Falcon and John Rustad, David Eby will not cut services or raise taxes and fees on ordinary British Columbians.”

Falcon presented this trio of policy proposals Thursday morning in Vancouver — not far from where Rustad would later address the Vancouver Board of Trade. Falcon used the occasion to highlight the bench strength of his party as B.C. United's House Leader Todd Stone, who is also shadow minister for jobs and economic development, and Peter Milobar, shadow minister for finance, offered remarks.

Stone added that opening up B.C. for private sector jobs is going to be an "unrelenting focus" of a government under B.C. United.

"It's a thriving, growing private sector that actually generates the net new revenues for the province to fund the critical services that British Columbians need and rely upon like health care and education and other services," Stone said.

Stone said a B.C. United government would be "hyper-charging" the provincial economy by cutting permitting times for critical mineral projects. Permitting delays have also stunted forestry by denying companies timber supplies.

"In the tech sector, this government is just barely scratching the surface in terms of what can be done to hyper-charge the tech sector in this province."

Milobar, meanwhile, launched a preemptive defence of his party's proposals.

"We're not cutting health care, we are not cutting education, but we are going to get results," he said. "We are seeing the worst outcomes in health care right now with record levels of spending. It needs to be actually changed and made more efficient."

B.C. United's broad-stroked economic platform appears against the backdrop of earlier, more detailed policy proposals around tax relief on energy, home construction and used car sales and concerns among some economists about the state of provincial finances following this year's budget.

It sees B.C. running its largest deficit ever with the province nearly $8 billion in the red. Two separate credit rating agencies also downgraded B.C.'s credit worthiness this spring with the proviso that B.C. remains the only province with a triple-A rating.

Some economist have also raised concerns about B.C.'s attractiveness in pointing to figures that show almost 70,000 people left the province in 2023 for other parts of Canada with the proviso that immigration from abroad continues to fuel record population growth.



Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with edstrauss in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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