It’s difficult to know if the provincial government actually understands how funding services works.
On Wednesday, MLA Eric Foster appeared before the Regional District of North Okanagan and told the board that the government can only do so much when it comes to supporting the victims assistance program.
“We’re flat tapped out,” said Foster.
That’s code word for downloading on to the regional district. Expenses for victims assistance have climbed while provincial funding has remained stagnant.
Foster’s comments didn’t go over well with board members.
“My taxpayers are the same ones you have and they don’t have any more money,” said director Earl Shipmaker.
Because RDNO directors are closer to the ground and have a sense of the financial challenges facing residents day-to-day, they know that they can’t just arbitrarily raise taxes or take on responsibility from other jurisdictions without there being a negative impact.
It should also be pointed out that the federal and provincial governments also have broader revenue sources than regional districts and municipalities.
“The fiscal imbalance we have is out of whack,” said director Juliette Cunningham.
What’s particularly troubling about this situation is victims assistance program costs have climbed because of edicts from the provincial government, including providing services to Falkland which isn’t even in the regional district.
When Victoria is downloading programs to improve its bottom line, it must understand there is, ultimately, only one taxpayer.