The provincial public accounts released by Finance Minister Carole James have the NDP and Greens pleased with their position.
Having pried control of the provincial government from the Liberals, the NDP are the recipients of a $2.7 billion surplus.
James clearly signaled the government’s intentions: “It is long past time for the citizens of B.C. to share in the benefits of the strong economy they helped create.” Translation: It’s time to spend.
The Liberals will use this as their first point of attack, now that they’re back in opposition. Though their criticism comes from shaky ground. Government spending was going up well before the election.
The problem the NDP now faces is that $2.7 billion doesn’t go as far as it used to.
The Liberals for years prioritized funding of things that were relatively cheap and came with nice ribbons to cut. We got a lot of new infrastructure, much of it very useful – bridges and roads and even schools and hospital expansions.
They were always cheap, however, with the ongoing costs. Transportation, education, and social services never got as much attention.
If the NDP makes much-needed investments in those areas, it will help a lot of people. But it will also increase the amount spent year after year after year, on salaries for bus drivers, nurses, teachers, doctors, and others.
We need to spend that money. B.C. is booming, but many have been left behind. Building a better future will be costly, but necessary, if we want the province to thrive.