Bernier and Davies concerned about NDP budget update

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James, left, and Premier John Horgan in the legislature before the Speech from the Throne on Sept. 8, 2017. Photo by Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

VICTORIA, B.C. — The Peace Region’s two BC Liberal MLAs are concerned about a number of items contained in the NDP’s first budget update that was released on Monday.

Peace River North MLA Dan Davies said that the NDP’s budget was “kind of scary,” due to the large amount of spending that was announced. Davies pointed out that the New Democrats have spent $2.5 billion of the $2.7 billion surplus that was on the books when the NDP took power in Victoria. He also said that the update contained roughly $1 billion in tax hikes, which he said was a cause for concern, since not all of the NDP’s campaign promises were included in the budget.

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier said he found that most of the spending announcements were those that were previously announced by the Liberals in February’s 2017 budget. Bernier said that though spending had increased, he was more concerned about the increase in taxes. He wondered if the NDP were increasing the corporate tax rate and personal income taxes over $150,000 because they forecast a decrease in business investment in the province in the coming years.

Bernier, who the Globe and Mail picked as one of five potential contenders in the leadership race to replace Christy Clark, did have some positive things to say about some of the items in Tuesday’s budget that weren’t previously announced. In particular, the former Education Minister did praise the NDP’s decision to restore free adult basic education and English language classes. “That was about a $19 million addition to the budget. That was cut quite a few years ago, and they brought it back. I think that was the right thing to do.” Bernier also gave praise to the amount of funding for Education, and the formation of a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to combat the ongoing fatal drug overdose crisis.

Both Davies, who is the Liberals’ critic for Education, and Bernier, who is Opposition Critic for Health, say that they will be closely scrutinizing the new provincial government in the Legislature until the next election.