Despite MLA Jane Thornwaite’s recent report to the Deep Cove Crier, I am not convinced of the overall merits of the B.C. Liberals’ latest “balanced” provincial budget. Amongst my many concerns is the gradual shift over the past decade or so of provincial revenue from progressively calculated income taxes to regressive taxation. With regressive taxation, the less a family has the more that family hurts.
Sales tax is one of the biggest culprits of regressive taxation, though there are many others: BC Hydro and ICBC rates, for instance, have been inflated for years to generate a net income for the province, effectively turning crown corporations originally created to provide low cost services into profit-driven enterprises; B.C. continues to hold the unflattering status of being the only province in Canada to charge a flat-tax MSP premium, effective rates which are on the rise again; and the province turns a blind eye to the ethically questionable practice of spending millions of dollars promoting gaming to collect billions in gambling profits while the number of people affected by problem gambling skyrockets.
And then there are the hidden costs: The taxes that never were and yet still have to be paid. These are paid by the parents and teachers dipping into their bank accounts on a regular basis to answer the fundraising calls underfunded schools are constantly putting out. They are the charitable donations to the local food bank in an earnest attempt to subdue the hunger of hundreds of people left behind by a system that fails to support them. Let’s not even get into the costs we pay by not addressing poverty with urgency: Higher crime rates, depressed communities, a repressed economy, loss of income tax revenue and production and a deepening of the cycle of poverty. All of this spells disaster for the future.
Poor fiscal management isn’t just about spending money on the wrong things: It’s also about collecting money from the wrong places and failing to spend money on the right things. It is time to do away with the hidden costs and side fees and accept higher income tax rates as a far healthier, more progressive, and cost effective strategy for keeping the province ticking long-term with the money we’re already paying all year round.
Bowinn Ma, North Vancouver
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