The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) called out the province of B.C. for failing to address its affordability crisis. Instead of tax breaks, residents receive the cold shoulder from their elected representatives.
"Families in British Columbia need a break," said Carson Binda, the B.C. Director for the CTF. "They need life to be more affordable, and the B.C. government can help make that happen."
Binda argues that Premier David Eby's cabinet shuffle last week provided ample opportunity for his new government to show taxpayers that it takes the rising cost of living seriously. "Eby's new cabinet needs to cut taxes and pay down the provincial debt to help B.C. families being crippled by the rising cost of living," he said.
However, since assuming office several weeks ago, the NDP has refused to read, let alone adopt, two opposition private members' bills.
Liberal MLA and Opposition House Leader Todd Stone introduced Bill M 214, the Members' Remuneration and Pensions (Salary Freeze) Amendment Act, 2022, on October 18 to suspend an expected $10,000 pay hike scheduled for next April.
MLAs make approximately $115,045 a year in B.C., while cabinet members earn up to $172,567. Meanwhile, Premier David Eby takes home a salary of $218,587 — nearly three times more than the median household income in B.C. Stone also called for the province to reverse the $20,000 retroactive pay hike for cabinet members.
On November 23, the B.C. Liberals also introduced legislation to provide people with relief from rising fuel prices. Bill M 217, the Miscellaneous Statutes (Gas Price Relief) Amendment Act, 2022, would temporarily suspend provincial gas taxes and the hidden taxes on gas imported from Alberta. But like Bill M 214, it did not receive a second reading.
With the B.C. legislature in recess for the holidays, the bills likely face removal from the order paper.
Since becoming premier several weeks ago, Binda states Eby has done the opposite needed to address affordability. "Eby is increasing gasoline, diesel, home heating, used cars and home taxes ... [when] families are paying record-breaking prices for fuel and groceries."
"At the same time, the Eby government has announced a $5.7 billion budgetary surplus, up $4.4 billion from previous projections," said Binda. "There is ample money in the budget to cut taxes, which is only helping to fuel the inflation fire."
This autumn has seen record-breaking demand for food banks, as one-in-five Canadians report skipping meals because of high food prices. The fuel price also shattered records in B.C., making everything more expensive.
Canada's Food Price Report 2023 predicts a 5-7% food price increase in 2023, following 10% gains this year, with vegetables, dairy, and meat observing the highest increases. The report forecasted that an average family of four, including a man (age 31-50), woman (age 31-50), boy (age 14-18), and girl (age 9-13), will spend up to $16,288.41 per year on food, an increase of up to $1,065.60 from 2022.
Within the following year, the average family in the Lower Mainland will pay around $10,000 in gas taxes at the pumps. "Taxes on natural gas will cost the average family $212 to heat their homes this winter."
"Everyday working British Columbians cannot afford to pay the tax burden levied against them by the politicians in Victoria," added Binda. "Eby could start delivering relief by axing the second carbon tax."
Unlike other provinces, B.C. has two carbon taxes. The first carbon tax adds 11 cents per litre to the cost of gasoline and 13 cents per litre of diesel. It's going to more than triple in the next eight years. The second carbon tax is a B.C. government fuel regulation that costs gasoline and diesel even more.
Binda articulates that axing the second provincial gas tax would save drivers 17 cents a litre of gasoline or approximately $13 every time they fill up a minivan. "Scrapping the second carbon tax would save about 19 cents a litre of diesel, shaving $172 off the cost of filling up a big rig truck that delivers all of our groceries and supplies."
"Provinces across the country and 51 national governments have cut taxes recently to help improve affordability. It's time for British Columbia to do the same," continues Binda.
"Eby and his new cabinet need to follow the lead of other provinces by cutting taxes and lowering the debt burden so that we can give less money to bondholders on Bay Street and focus on the priorities that matter to British Columbians."
"Eby likes to talk about affordability and has promised to deliver actual results for British Columbians. If he's serious about affordability and showing results, he needs to put his money where his mouth is. Eby must cut taxes and pay the provincial debt to save families money."