February 19, 2014 - 5:00 AM
VICTORIA - Families First was a surprisingly successful slogan for Premier Christy Clark's Liberals, but families aren't necessarily first in the government's latest budget.
The admittedly "modest" new spending unveiled by Finance Minister Mike de Jong promises $350 million over the next three years for families and individuals most in need.
The bulk of that scant new spending — $243 million — will go to Community Living B.C. and $15 million will go to the Children's Ministry for children and youth with special needs.
The rest of the spending touted for families will go to the RCMP policing costs, which will see a $15 million increase, and $6 million for legal-aid services.
The budget holds the line on K-12 and post-secondary education spending, with no money included for either a $2 million court judgment against the government in favour of B.C. teachers, or funds to address issues such as class-size and working conditions.
Health premiums will also increase by about four per cent, which works out to an extra $5.50 a month for families with children, but there is no change in personal income tax rates.
QUOTES AND REACTION TO B.C. BUDGET 2014-15
VICTORIA - Quotes on the B.C. budget:
"The budget in one or two words? I came up with three — a triple-b budget — boring, balanced budget. But we're one of only two provinces in Canada that can boast that happy state of boring."
- B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong
"Boring seems to be the new sexy. The core themes of this budge are clearly stay the course, prudence, and vigilance."
- Iain Black, president of the Vancouver Board of Trade
"Today's provincial budget means putting off critical investments that will generate better health outcomes and cost savings in the future."
- Bonnie Pearson, Hospital Employees' Union
"The B.C. government is betting the farm on the development of a massive LNG industry in B.C. It is clear from today's budget however that there will not be corresponding protection of our environment."
- Gwen Barlee, Wilderness Committee
"The budget ignores the court decision (which said the province violated teachers' bargaining rights by removing class size and composition from their contract) in a really irresponsible way. There is a contingency fund, they have a small surplus. And what they should be doing is sitting down with us and figuring out how to fix this."
- Glen Hansman, B.C. Teachers' Federation
"This is not a good budget for health care. With a two per cent increase, it's pretty much flat, which will not take into account inflation, population growth, increased cost of drugs and technology. What that means for the patients that we look after is more people falling through the cracks."
- Debra McPherson, president of the B.C. Nurses Union.
"The minister of finance is very focused on eliminating the fiscal deficit a year before every other province, but there are other deficits that remain. There's a big social deficit, we have a jobs deficit, and none of those is being addressed in the budget."
Iglika Ivanova, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014