BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said Tuesday he thought a free contraception program in the provincial budget handed down the same day was a great idea, but otherwise found little worth praising in the budget.
He characterized Budget 2023 as a debt-ridden “disappointment.”
“This government, in the sixth year, have almost doubled the debt to $100 billion in the current financial plan,” he said. “There’s going to be projected deficits of $11 billion over the next three years.
“And my question to British Columbians is this: After two terms of NDP government, do you feel like things are better off today than they were six years ago?”
He cited long wait lists for cancer care and health specialists as one example that things have not improved in areas like health care.
And he panned a $400 renter’s rebate – promised three years ago in the 2020 election campaign – as a day late and a dollar short. He noted that renters living in Vancouver probably earn too much to qualify for the rebate.
Falcon also noted that the BC NDP government appears to have abandoned its 2017 election campaign promise to build 114,000 new homes over 10 years to address a chronic shortage of affordable housing in B.C.
“That’s suddenly disappeared,” Falcon said. “No kidding. It was a dumb commitment to make that they had no possibility of ever doing, and not surprisingly they only achieved a small fraction of what they promised. Now they don’t even talk about it.”
While he said he is “pleased” to see increased funding for mental health, addictions and recovery, he added the operating funding is not matched with the capital investments needed for new or expanded recovery centres.
Falcon repeated some criticisms of the budget made by of a number of business organizations: “There is nothing in this budget that talks about growing the economy,” he said.
Asked what he would not have included in the budget, Falcon he would not build public works like hospitals under community benefits agreements, which requires all construction workers to be a member of a union.
"I wouldn't, for example, be building hospitals under community ripoff agreements that see the Cowichan Hospital go from a $600 million price tag to $1.4 billion," he said. "I wouldn't have cancelled the Massey Bridge -- a 10-lane bridge that would be open today ... that the NDP cancelled, even though there was $900 million below-budget bid in place."
The NDP's plan for the George Massey Tunnel is to replace it with a new eight-lane tunnel at a cost of $4.3 billion.