If it feels that your paycheque isn’t going as far as it once did, it’s because it isn’t.
Yes, there is inflation. But B.C. has outpaced the rest of Canada with higher inflation than anywhere else. So it isn’t just about inflation.
This isn’t what we were promised when the NDP became government in 2017.
Seven years ago, the people of British Columbia were promised a brighter future. The current government assured us home ownership would be within reach and economic opportunities would be plentiful. Today, it's clear that those promises have not been fulfilled. Our province now has the highest average rents and housing prices in North America.
While the government continues to point fingers and lay blame elsewhere, British Columbians are facing an unprecedented affordability crisis. The promise of well-paying, stable jobs has been replaced with an inflationary deficit of $7 billion—the largest in the history of the province.
Our GDP growth is languishing, with a mere 0.8% growth rate projected for 2024, placing us near the bottom among Canadian provinces. It's time for the government to own up to these issues and take responsibility.
I hear about these struggles every day. During my time home this summer in Kelowna, I had the opportunity to speak with constituents like Ed, who is deeply concerned about the declining natural resource sector—a cornerstone of B.C.'s economy. His worries reflect a greater problem—a failing economy impacts everyone, especially the middle class.
I also received a letter from Tanya, a hardworking mother who explained how, despite both parents earning an income, her family still struggles to afford basic necessities like after-school care for their children. Heartbreakingly, Tanya’s family doesn’t qualify for government subsidies.
So what could the government do to lessen the middle-class squeeze?
It could eliminate one of the 29 new or increased taxes and fees over the past seven years. That has effectively squeezed an additional $20 billion annually from the pockets of British Columbians, amounting to an extra $5,000 burden for every taxpayer.
I also recently spoke with Gerry, a 72-year-old constituent, who has to allocate a staggering 70% of his pension income to cover rent, leaving him with the gut-wrenching decision of choosing between food and utilities.
As a member of the official Opposition, it is my duty to advocate for those who are being disproportionately affected by these policies. In addition to the taxes, experts predict current government policies will take $28 billion a year out of our economy by 2030. That is almost $10,000 less income per taxpayer in B.C.
So we are paying more tax, but making less money. We must not ignore these warning signs. This economy isn’t just failing families, it’s failing new immigrants, students and small business owners as well.
It’s time we changed course. British Columbians deserve a break from seven years of middle-class squeeze. Let's offer them a future they can approach with optimism and excitement, rather than one that only fosters hopelessness.
To the government, I say, stop playing the blame game. Take responsibility and make the necessary changes now. British Columbians have waited long enough.
My question to you is this:
How are you experiencing this middle-class squeeze?
I love hearing from you and bringing your voice to Victoria. Email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.
Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.