What the heck is going on in BC. Premier Gordon Campbell has pulled the wool over the eyes of the media and the public for eight plus years now.
Lets look at his record so far. He has run the largest three and by the time he is done, four deficits in BC history. He has accomplished this despite coming to office in 2001 with a one billion dollar surplus. Campbell talked about a structural deficit that lead to the huge deficit in 2002. What he did not mention was his move to slash taxes by very large numbers, to the extent that it crippled the government's ability to deliver on services to people, to maintain health-care and education funding.
This manufactured circumstance of lower revenues lead to the Campbell government claiming they had to reign in health care costs. He did this by gutting health care workers rights, reducing wages and benefits by 40 to 50 percent. It was one of the most aggressive attacks on workers benefits in Canadian history.
Cutting health care was not enough with shrinking revenues to balance the budget. Campbell had promised in the election not to raise tuition fees. He kept the promise for one year. The fees have risen every year since. BC went from having the second lowest tuition and post secondary fees in Canada to rivaling those in Alberta, Canada's highest cost education.
Further measures by the Campbell Government like cuts to the Corporate capital tax put another big hole on the revenue side of the ledger. This was a tax that applied to paid up capital in the province and was intended to address the companies that did big business in BC but had corporate head quarters else where. In the case of the banks, BC received nothing in income tax as they are all headquartered in Toronto. Ontario gained the income tax for banks on business done in all the other provinces, including BC.
So Campbell managed in 2001 to lay the ground work of undermining the government's ability to fund health-care, education and other government services. This is the first step often employed by right wing governments in the USA and now Canada, to remove government's ability to support improvements to health-care and education.
Premier Dave Barrett was slaughtered in the 1975 election in part due to the Social Credit promise to eliminate the Capital tax. The tax survived and has been place at various levels since 1975, with governments of all stripes relying on it to support government services.
If government can't support these issues then you pass it onto the individual. The liberals have systematically removed procedures from coverage on MSP. They have drastically reduced the financial support for seniors drug plans and for others.
MSP premiums are going up 6% this year. That's faster than US Health care cost increases! In future posts I will look at each of these items and add more with respect to taxation, or the lack of taxation and how the government agenda is one to privatize BC's public services like BC Hydro, BC Ferries, and the payoff of a big time liberal contributor with the sale of BC rail.