Sound bite season has started for BC Liberals

Editorial

Tuesday, February 23 2016

The newly released BC budget is clearly aimed at appealing to voters who will head to the polls in 2017.

Of good news is the MSP relief for single-parent families. They’ll see a reduction in payments that will save them $864 a year.

That comes with an increase in MSP payments for those couples who earn $45,000 or more, who will see an annual increase of $240. 

The move is a shortsighted measure, done to win over voters.

If the Liberals are going to make concessions and increases to MSP payments based on income, they should abolish the MSP all together and increase all provincial income taxes to balance out the difference. 

Another move made purely to earn votes is the Liberals change to the property transfer tax. 

With the change, the purchase of a newly built home under $750,000 will now be exempt from the property transfer tax (a savings of $13,000). 

This is great for those who build. A positive step forward.

But for those who want to buy an existing home, the transfer tax remains a major obstacle in changing homes. 

If the Liberals truly wanted to see a major shift in home buying patterns around BC, they would remove the transfer tax for all purchases under $750,000. Lateral moves, especially in markets where new construction is slow, would certainly pick up. Second time buyers could better afford to buy up in their own market, creating possibilities for potential first-time buyers to enter the ownership realm.

The photo opps and sound byte year is upon us. Expect much of the same for the next year from the Premier Clark government, as they hope voters forget about ferry cuts and hydro hikes; forget about broken liquid-natural-gas (LNG) deadlines. 

Clark has promised a prosperity fund (she still thinks money will be made through LNG - for BC to put towards transportation, education, and health care. 

Voters need to realize, if Clark had the money for a prosperity fund, that means she already has more money she could be putting into those areas already.