File photo.

Taxpayers’ group presents B.C. pre-budget committee with Top 10 list

List compiled from survey of 15,000-strong provincial membership

Kris Sims was one of the few people who did not before B.C.’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to ask for money.

The nine-person committee is currently touring the province, collecting public input in advance of the next provincial budget, and Sims, the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, drove from the Fraser Valley to Cranbrook, where the dommittee was in session Thursday.

She came armed with a top 10 list of items the CTF and its 15,000-strong B.C. membership wanted to see.

1. Balance the budget. “If there’s one thing that gets our supporters riled up, getting people writing letters to the editor and calling talk radio stations, they say ‘Balance our budget.’ They don’t like to see deficits, they don’t like to see province going further into debt, because they know what it does to their own household.”

2. Cancel the B.C. carbon tax. “People are fed up with it,” Sims said. “And top of that we found out during the last mini-budget that it’s not even going to revenue-neutral anymore, and it hasn’t been revenue neutral for several years. The Fraser Institute, one of our colleagues, found that the previous government had been taking old tax credits — years old — and adding them to the balance sheet of the current budget, for the carbon tax, to make it look balanced and neutral. It wasn’t. It was costing families $800 a year.”

3. Eliminate the Medical Services Plan premium: “We were very happy to see the MSP cut by 50 per cent by the previous government,” Sims said. “And this new government has committed to finishing it off — eliminating it 100 per cent.”

4. Stop raiding Crown Corporations: “If you’ve got a budget shortfall, don’t turn around and scoop money out of places like ICBC and BC Hydro,” Sims said. “We are ratepayers for those services, and when we see our money going to things other than auto insurance and hydro prices and just being used to paper over a budget shortfall, that really ticks people off.”

5. On ICBC: “We think it needs an overhaul, not just a tune-up,” Sims said. “We think ICBC should be turned into a co-op. Turn it into something like Mountain Equipment Co-op or VanCity. Make it owned by B.C. drivers, so if you choose to take your basic auto insurance out with this nice new ICBC co-op, you can do that. And then open that co-op up to private competition from other companies. So if you’re a great driver, you can shop around and get a lower rate.”

READ MORE: Critics call ICBC a ‘financial train wreck’

6. Don’t kill the Site C dam: “We say this with cautions,” Sims said. “By now, we’re in it. When we asked our supporters, they said don’t kill it, be as stringent and prudent and careful as possible, but we’ve invested so much money in it now, better to see it through. … If we bail out now, BC Hydro at least is saying that it will cost $7 billion.”

7. Get government contracts, including boards and councils, under control. “One of the heads of TransLink makes more than the Prime Minister of Canada, as does her second-in-command,” Sims said. “There are tons of boards like this, and they’re basically permanent government. People don’t hear about them or know about them, they’re not elected, but they’re paid an outrageous amount of money.”

8. Eliminate the vote tax: “The government has imposed a transition fund — a vote tax of $16 million that’s coming out of taxpayers’ pockets,” Sims said. “When you break it down per vote it doesn’t sound like a lot of money. But most people don’t want their tax dollar going to a lawn sign or an attack ad. If you’re running for any political party, raise your own money.”

READ MORE: NDP caps party donations at $1,200 per person

9. Don’t block the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion: “We understand there are concerns,” Sims said. “We also understand the Trudeau Liberal government has approved it, and that lots and lots of people and lots of boards have reviewed this. If we rely on these important economic engines of our economy, and we allow them to continue things like Kinder Morgan, it helps the tax base.”

10. Reduce spending and lower taxes: “The men and women on the pre-budget committee are getting swamped with spending requests. We’re there to say stop. Cut your spending, and reduce our taxes. And as far as we can tell, we among the only people going to these meetings saying, ‘Please stop!’”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation came into being as a response to the implementation of the goods and services tax in 1990.

Just Posted

Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Sarah Wark’s run just about done at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

With an overall record of 5-5, Wark’s Team B.C. won’t be qualifying for Saturday’s playoff round.

Chilliwack’s aquifer again in the spotlight with NEB pipeline approval

Concerns from WaterWealth Project and Coun. Jason Lum, but mayor says it’s time to ‘move forward’

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read