Tag Archives: deficit

The Evidence is Mounting; Did the BC Liberals Know About the Size of the Deficit?

When I was studying at SFU I took a course in American Literature. One of the assigned novels was Joseph Heller’s classic, Catch 22. At one point in that novel the narrator, John Yossarian has the task of censoring mail destined for anywhere outside Pianosa where their military base is located. Yossarian tells of censoring what really were innocent letters home to the point that they were unintelligible. Perhaps Yossarian is the person currently censoring the documents the New Democrats are getting via the Freedom of Information Act.

Ralston put in an FOI request for documents which indicate that an updated fiscal forecast analysis was done on the eve of the provincial election. However, the documents received are heavily censored and provide no details on that analysis.

“One page from a March 2009 presentation to the government treasury board titled “Updated fiscal forecast” has been so severely censored that only the title remains,” said Ralston. “It shows the government budget forecast was revised before the election, but voters were kept in the dark.

“The BC Liberals told voters the 2009 deficit would be $495 million ‘maximum’, but it turned out to be six times that amount,” said Ralston. “At first it wasn’t clear whether the BC Liberals lied or were just incompetent.

Ralston says the evidence is building to show that, “the BC Liberal claim of ignorance has slowly unraveled.”

Ralston said another page contains a March 31st email from an Energy and Mines ministry staffer to the deputy finance minister that flags a $134 million drop from just one natural gas revenue source. Other projections were severed in the document.

Perhaps the BC Liberals really did know that the deficit was going to be in the $2 billion range?

Remember the Kelowna group who tried to bring suit against the New Democratic government following the 1996 election? They claimed that the election was won by the NDP because of lies about the budget. Of course that suit was ultimately dismissed, but maybe those stalwart defenders of the democracy will once again come crawling out from under their rocks to bring a suit against the BC Liberals for what is looking more and more like an election won based on lies about the budget.

Olympic screw over for BC

Saw on the news last night that a group of people are outraged because they have been evicted from their rental house, ostensibly because the landlord needs the house for her immediate family’s use. The evicted renters did a little Google work and found that in fact, their former home is up for rent at Olympic-inflated prices.  Of course, that makes for a great little press conference in front of the house with the evicted tenants telling their tale of woe and everybody shaking their heads in disgust and anger. The obligatory call to the house owner yields the “Calls were not returned…”

People! The Olympics are all about screwing the little guy! We paid the millions for a massive (and beautiful, I might add) highway to Whistler with nary a whisper of a toll being put on it. New bridge so that the poor shlubs can get from Surrey into the city? TOLLS! Bridge from Surrey to Maple Ridge…TOLLS!

So people, shut about the Olympian sized screw over that our province is getting. Enjoy the Olympics from your living-room…unless you were evicted that is. You should be happy that the event is not yet a pay-per-view event on television. And just think about all the benefits that are coming our way.

The BC Liberal Index, Fall 2009

 B.C. LIBERAL INDEX

Fall 2009

With apologies to HARPER’S

  • Amount consumers will have to fork over for the HST: $1.9 billion
  • Tourism jobs that will be lost due to the HST: 10,000
  • Restaurant industry jobs that will be lost due to the HST: 12,000
  • Number of HST-free Christmases left: 1, unless we stop the HST
  • Number of B.C. Liberals it would take to vote down the HST: 7
  • Cost of the HST for B.C. schools: almost $40 million
  • B.C. surgeries cancelled this year: between 9,860 and 15,500
  • Funding cut from Parent Advisory Councils on first day of school: $6.7 million
  • Number of full-time jobs lost in B.C. over the last year: 76,900
  • Amount B.C. Ferries CEO David Hahn makes each year: over $1,000,000
  • Number of trains B.C. Rail CEO Kevin Mahoney is paid $494,182 to manage: 0
  • Amount the B.C. Liberals spent on advertising for the LiveSmart program before the election: more than $7 million
  • Months after the election until the B.C. Liberals cancelled LiveSmart: 3
  • B.C. Liberals’ increase to maximum weekly online gambling limit: $120 to $9,999
  • Funding cut for gambling prevention programs: 34 per cent
  • Planned cut to arts funding next year: nearly 85 per cent
  • Jobs lost in the forest industry since the election: more than 1,500
  • Sockeye missing in 2009 from the Fraser River: 9 million
  • Escaped Atlantic salmon from B.C. open-net fish farms in 2009: 172,000
  • Years in a row the B.C. Liberals have had worst record in Canada on child poverty: 6
  • Cost of Olympic tickets purchased for B.C. Liberal MLAs and Crown corporations: nearly $2.4 million
  • Number of Special Olympics athletes that could have been supported for $2.4 million: 7,000

Figures cited are the latest available as of November 2009. “B.C. Liberal Index” is not a registered trademark.

B C G E U 0 7 0 1

Latest Campbell cuts

In response to the latest cuts that the Campbell Liberals are inflicting on BC, beleaguered literary organizations are forming the Coalition for the Defence of Writing and Publishing in British Columbia. This comes one day after the Arts & Culture branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & the Arts (Hon. Kevin Krueger) simultaneously removed all funding from the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia ($45,000), BC BookWorld newspaper ($31,000) and B.C. Association of Magazine Publishers ($20,000) via phone calls from its executive director Andrea Henning, on October 6.

“Thus far they have chopped off three heads,” says Alan Twigg, publisher of BC BookWorld for twenty-one years, “but indications are that more heads will roll.”

And the slow and painful cuts continue to inflict themselves. The peculiar thing about the cumulative effect of these cuts is that they are all leading to the end of the Campbell reign. What a slow and agonizing way to end the Campbell regime.

For more info: http://www.books.bc.ca

Campbell government; from crisis to crisis

You really have to wonder what is going on with the Gordon Campbell Liberals. The Campbell government was previously renowned for their incredible ability to control the politic agenda in BC, now they appear to be reeling from crisis to crisis with nobody in control.

Right after the May election the news breaks that the Campbell Liberals are going to change to a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). This news after an election campaign where nothing was said about the change to the way that the provincial sales tax would be administered and what some are saying was a statement against the change to the HST. The amazing thing about this situation was the way that the news was handled once the story broke. Nobody involved, from Gordon Campbell to Colin Hansen to Stephen Harper seemed to be singing from the same song sheet. That is unusual for the Campbell crew. In the past Campbell appeared to be the master political manipulator, handling situations like this one much more deftly. Not this time.

Then the budget came down. As Vaughn Palmer has said, it appeared that the Campbell Liberals were inducing, on themselves, death through a thousand cuts. Cuts to programs that seemed to save miniscule amounts of money but ones that brought immense attention and public revulsion. Cuts to programs in the arts community that on balance actually bring more money into the government than they cost. Also, cuts to programs that they had previously agreed to fund…those pesky contracts that they had signed. Embarrassing for the Campbell Liberals.

Next were the cuts to education programs; first up was withdrawal of the Annual Facilities Grant. These are monies that school districts typically invest in their infrastructure over the summer months. And then at the end of the summer the Campbell Liberals clawback those dollars. This simply demonstrated a complete ignorance of how school districts actually function.

And then you have the Minister of Education, Dr Margaret MacDiarmid trying to explain the clawbacks. This is a rookie minister who has no connection to BC’s public education system. She has no children of her own in the school system, she has never been involved with a school board, she has never been on a Parent Advisory Committee and now she is the Minister of Education. A rookie politician and a rookie minister in a very high profile portfolio. Bizarre logic from Campbell once again.

Then the Campbell government cuts the BC School Sports monies. Minister MacDiarmid will forever be known for her comment that perhaps kids can spend more time playing in their community parks. Ouch. And then it becomes apparent that Campbell basically has three ministers of sport in his cabinet. Fold one of those ministries into the other and the savings would more than make up for the cuts to the BC Sports.  

Next is the announcement of Jessica MacDonald’s resignation to “spend more time with her family.” Odd? to say the least. Peculiar timing anyway. For those unfamiliar with Ms Jessica MacDonald, it is rumoured that Gordon Campbell, Jessica MacDonald and Martin Brown “are the government”. The uber-control freak, Gordon Campbell only trusted MacDonald and Brown with being inside the circle of decision making. And then within a few short months of the election MacDonald walks away. Her future role/prize in society has yet to be named. 

And the crazy thing is, the list goes on. Everyday there is another cut that becomes public. Whether it is a cut to the autistic childrens program or the victims of domestic violence or kids sporting events (in the year of the world’s most extravagant sporting events, the Olympics, that BC will ever see), cuts to libraries and library programs and on and on.

What happened to Gordon Campbell? He was previously known as the master political puppet master. Now his government reels from crisis to crisis with no sign of direction or control. Very peculiar indeed.

From the Vancouver School Board

News from last night’s first school board meeting of this school year;

Vancouver, B.C. – (September 9, 2009) – In support of its position that the education of our children and youth is the best investment of public funds, the Vancouver Board of Education passed a series of resolutions Wednesday night calling on the provincial government to:
*fully fund increased costs to school districts;
*restore grants that have been cancelled or reduced;
**fund the costs of H1N1 prevention;
*fund increased employee MSP premium increases;
*grant 75 percent Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) rebates to school districts;
*alter legislation to allow boards to carry deficits;
*and fully fund all-day Kindergarten implementation.

The resolutions were passed at an emergency board meeting called to give trustees an opportunity to update stakeholders and community members on the current budget situation and consider possible responses.

A staff report outlining the district’s three-year budget projection showed the district will require almost $15 million in additional funding for the 2010/11 school year to compensate for salary and benefit increases, inflation, purchase of carbon offsets, potential impact of HST (if no rebates provided) and the MSP rate increase, assuming the facilities grant funding is reinstated. If it is not, the shortfall would rise to more than $25 million. The report also notes that almost $7 million of the current year’s operating fund came from one-time transfers of monies from a previous surplus and the district’s reserve fund. The district does not expect those funds to be available for the 2010/11 school year.

“We received some short-term relief yesterday when the Minister advised us that she is approving our request to access our shared $5 million restricted capital reserve fund and $2.5 million savings we realized on Combined Seismic Mitigation projects,” said Board Chair Patti Bacchus. “We made a special request to access those funds to help us grapple with the Ministry of Education’s abrupt cancellation of our $10.6 million Annual Facilities Grant (AFG) funding.

The district was hit yesterday by the news that gaming grants to Parent Advisory Councils will be cut in half, which means a funding reduction of more than $500,000 to Vancouver schools.

“In addition to the cancellation of the facilities funding, we’ve also been advised that the ministry is taking back $400,000 in what they refer to as ‘holdback’ funding that we received in June,” said Board Vice Chair Jane Bouey. “We allocated some of that funding to provide all-day Kindergarten to some of our inner-city schools, but now the money is gone.”

“It’s critical that government provides at the very minimum funding to cover the increased costs of school districts,” said Trustee Sharon Gregson, who chairs the board’s Finance Committee. “We submitted a Needs Budget in the spring calling on the government to restore funding so we could return to 2001/02 service levels, and to do that, we would have needed a minimum of $40-million increase for this school year, and we know costs will be higher next year.”

Gaming funds disappearing act

Just a quick question this morning…where are the millions upon millions of dollars of gaming revenue disappearing to? The BC provincial government signed a memorandum of understanding in 1999 stating that 33% of gaming, read as profits from gambling, were to be supplied to non-profits, groups such as Parent Advisory Councils, theatre groups, victim services and so on.

The revenues have not collapsed or even shrunk. So that begs the question, where have the profits that the provincial government has collected from gambling disappeared to?

Parent Advisory Council funds cut by Campbell Liberals

It seems that Ann Whiteaker, president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils did her homework a little too late. Whiteaker had just finished preparing a news release calling for parents to lobby the Campbell government to maintain the gaming monies grants when she was notified by the Vancouver Sun that the province had just announced that they will only be giving half as much money as they did last year.

Last year the Parent Advisory Councils received approximately $20 per student to help with the purchasing of playground equipment, paying for field trips, buying computers, software and books and organizing cultural and sporting events.

Margaret McDiarmid, the Minister of Education, said “I think most parents’ feedback for us is that if we had to choose, that they would actually rather have us keep the dollars in the classroom with the students, and I think that’s a good choice.”

You have to wonder if the Minister really understands what the gaming grants have actually been used for.

Campaign to Stop BC Education Cuts

It seems like finally the weakling on the school yard is going to stand up to the bully and say, “NO, you cannot take my lunch money again.” Some School Boards are starting a grassroots campaign to let the provincial government know that they are not going to sit back and just accept the school budget cuts.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School Trustee Stepan Vdovine sent out the following message on behalf of the Campaign to Stop BC Education Cuts;

It’s back to school for BC’s 570,000 K-12 students today, as our Province’s public schools face yet another round of unexpected budget cuts for 2009-10.http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=152591712845

Please help us send a strong message to Victoria. Stand up for BC public schools and tell Gordon Campbell and BC Liberal government that our public schools matter.

Join this campaign on Facebook:

Boards around the province are currently faced with:

* Unexpected mid-year cancellation of the $110 million annual facilities grant to maintain public schools – Boards will be forced to cut classroom costs to cover urgent maintenance.

* Budget freeze means boards will have to cut staffing to cover cost increases such as MSP premium hikes and a 2.5% pay increase for teachers for 2009, followed by another 2% in 2010.

* Another $7.6 million in annual PAC funding from gaming grants has also been cut, with the provincial parent body BCCPAC urging parents province-wide to contact their MLAs in protest.

Nobody should die because some bureaucrat denies them access to healthcare

From Twitter: “No one should die because of a bureaucrat’s decision, & U.S. shouldn’t go broke because liberals want to run health care.” We have taken the liberty to add the missing letters that make this message longer than 140 characters but the intent of the message is preserved.

Now could you also say that nobody should die because some bureaucrat decides that tens of millions of Americans should not have access to health care insurance? How many people die each and every day because they do not have the money to pay for the health care they need? How many people go bankrupt because of trying to pay for the health care their family members need?

And America should not go broke because “liberals” want to pay for health care? What about the billions upon billions of dollars that have been spent on the war in Iraq? Money spent by George W Bush, someone nobody would dare to call a liberal. Did those billions not lead the USA into debt?