Premier Clark’s April Fools’ Day is a cruel joke

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John Horgan Premier Designate, B.C. New Democrats

By John Horgan, Leader, BC New Democrats

John Horgan, BC NDP Leader
John Horgan, BC NDP Leader

My values are simple. If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to build a better life for yourself and your family. That’s how it worked for my mother, raising my brothers and my sister and I in B.C. That’s the opportunity every parent wants for their children.

But more and more, I see families in B.C. working hard and not getting ahead. I’ve sat at the kitchen table with parents as they lay out their family budget for me in black and white. They’re paying more and getting less.

I find it especially telling that some of the biggest new costs Premier Christy Clark is forcing on families came into effect on April Fools’ Day. That’s the day that every British Columbian starts paying even more for electricity – again. It also marks yet another increase to already out of control ferry fares.

Since Premier Clark was sworn in, B.C families have seen their B.C. Hydro bills grow by a third, and eat up an extra $325 each year. That’s just the average. If you have a larger family, like the one I grew up in, you’re paying even more. If you happen to live in a community where there’s still snow outside, you’re paying a lot more too.

What do B.C. families have to show for it?

Premier Clark isn’t done grinding your family’s budget. Your Medical Services Premiums went up in January. Your ICBC rates are going up. Anyone who needs to use a ferry or a new bridge is opening their wallet wider still. If you have kids in school or post-secondary education, you already know you’re paying more. Get ready to pay more for a quiet drink at your neighborhood restaurant. You even have to fork over more to take your kids camping in a provincial park.

What do B.C. families have to show for it?

Before the last election, Premier Clark promised voters she would address the “total burden of costs that government puts on citizens.” But she can’t be taken at her word anymore. She’s actually made that burden heavier every year.

If so many people across B.C. are paying more and getting less, where does all their money go? Well, nearly a quarter of a billion dollars of it, $236 million to be exact, paid for a tax break for the province’s wealthiest two per cent. Individuals who make a million dollars a year or more got a $17,000 tax cut from Premier Clark this year. Yet you have to pay hundreds of dollars in new fees, tolls and insurance premiums. Does that seem fair?

There are a lot of families in B.C. who don’t need an economist to tell them that real wages have not kept up with prices. I can show you studies from the C.D. Howe Institute and others. But what parents have shown me is what’s left in their budget at the end of the month. Middle-class parents are struggling to keep up, let alone get ahead.

B.C. families need a break. Instead of huge tax breaks for people who don’t need them – and didn’t even ask for them –government should be working to contain costs for families. I think the premier should start listening.

Right now, I’m visiting communities all over British Columbia. And I’m letting people know that New Democrats will give B.C. families a break. I’m meeting with families and listening to where they need a break the most.

With your help, we can end the Liberal waste, giveaways, and mismanagement. We need a provincial government that contains its costs and doesn’t punish families in order to reward the very few. In British Columbia, we need a premier who works hard every day for middle-class families.