I have heard from so many of you about escalating costs in B.C.
I hear you, and I am working hard to change the trajectory we are on. If it feels worse in B.C. than in the rest of Canada, it’s because it is. B.C.’s inflation has outpaced Canada’s average 10 out of the last 15 months.
When the federal government took action last week by eliminating the carbon tax on heating oil in the eastern provinces, (particularly the Atlantic provinces, where oil is used the most to heat homes) many other provincial leaders asked for the same tax treatment (on home heating fuels) in their provinces.
As many know, BC has it’s own carbon tax and has full jurisdiction to make decisions on how it is applied. I should also note that while former B.C. premiers, such as B.C. Liberals Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark chose to hold carbon tax increases in tough times, former NDP premier John Horgan and current NDP premier David Eby declared they will work in unison with the federal government to increase the carbon tax every year.
B.C.’s current carbon tax is $65 per tonne and it will triple to $170 per tonne by 2030. The annual carbon tax increases will raise the price of a litre of gasoline by 26 cents by the end of the decade.
The government claims it offsets the financial burden to British Columbians but the Climate Action Rebates are the lowest in the country, when compared to the federal rebates available in other provinces.
In this context, BC United Leader Kevin Falcon announced his plan last week that focused on alleviating cost-of-living pressures felt by residents across British Columbia. It is a comprehensive strategy designed to provide immediate relief and a much-needed economic respite to the province.
BC United’s vision is simple—make life more affordable by making it less expensive.
So, what is this plan all about?
First, it would end the pain at the pumps. British Columbians need to get where they are going. We also need to move goods and services across our vast province by truck.
A BC United government would permanently eliminate the provincial fuel ta, a move that would provide an immediate saving of up to 15 cents per litre on gasoline and diesel, putting money back into the pockets of drivers.
Secondly, it would cancel any planned carbon tax hikes. The proposal acknowledges that during a cost-of-living crisis, the additional financial load is unsustainable for many.
The next important step would be to remove the carbon tax from all home heating fuels. I have had many residents tell me they often choose to skip a meal in order to afford to heat their homes. Removing the carbon tax from all home heating fuels would provide immediate and much-needed relief to those who need it most.
The BC United plan will also focus on lowering food costs. The escalating price of groceries is a universal concern, and Falcon's strategy targets a root cause by removing the carbon tax from on-farm fuel use.
In only makes sense that reducing operational costs for farmers will lead to lower prices at the checkout. Furthermore, removal of the provincial fuel tax would complement this approach, aiming to make a tangible difference in the cost of daily essentials.
Lastly, if the federal government eliminated all federal carbon tax while Falcon was premier, he has promised to follow suit. A BC United government would not put B.C. at a competitive disadvantage as the only jurisdiction in Canada with a carbon tax.
These initiatives are not isolated economic moves but part of a thoughtful strategy to combat the cost-of-living crisis head-on. By focusing on areas of significant financial outflow such as transportation, home heating and food, Falcon is directly targeting the pain points of British Columbians.
BC United's commitment under Falcon’s leadership is to turn the tide on the affordability crisis. It is a commitment to ensure that living in B.C. is not just viable but also financially sustainable for its residents.
Interestingly, most of these initiatives could happen tomorrow if the provincial government chose to.
As the Opposition, we have asked for the premier to take action on affordability and in light of the federal government’s removal of carbon tax on home heating oil, we expect him to follow suit for British Columbians. So far, he as stubbornly refused.
As the province looks to the future, it's time for a government that doesn't just acknowledge the hardships but takes decisive action to alleviate them, ensuring the beautiful province of British Columbia is a place where affordability is a reality, not a struggle.
My question to you this week is this:
Do you agree with the BC United announced plans on making your life more affordable?
I love hearing from you and I read every email. Please 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.