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Posted: February 14, 2018

The only certainty is you will pay for it

By Tom Shypitka

Kootenay East MLA

The Throne Speech on Tuesday fell a little short on its intended mark.

Although the speech identified where issues are with British Columbians, it didn’t provide a lot of substance on how they were going to handle it.

The speech also proved that British Columbians can’t afford the lavish promises the NDP made during the election campaign.

For example the two biggest promises were child-care and affordability.

I remember during the election campaign an acquaintance of mine accosted me at an election forum and was literally screaming at me saying the BC Liberals were getting in the way of his family getting $10 daycare. I told the gentleman numerous things around this promise and why it was not a good platform but one of the main reasons was that plan would cost $1.5 billion per year and the roll out of the plan was 10 years (his child would then be in high school).

I also told him that it was more than likely a false promise. In yesterday’s Throne Speech there was no mention of $10 daycare. It is interesting to note as of Tuesday Premier Horgan is insisting that he made no promise on $10 daycare and that his words were just “branding” of a term. Most everyone I talk to seem to remember it differently.

Affordability was another grand promise in that the NDP were going to bring forward 114,000 additional affordable homes to British Columbians. When I did the quick math on this grand promise I came up with a rough figure of about $25 billion. I was pretty certain at that point that this would be another questionable promise made.

In the Throne speech all the government could reference was 1,700 modular homes completed last year. The Throne Speech also added the caveat that in order for the government to fulfill it’s promises it will need the help of the federal government as well as municipalities to rezone and in some cases provide land to get this project started, something they choose to leave out of their election promise.

Other promises made, like a renters rebate and the promise to eliminate portables in Surrey, were nowhere to be seen in this speech.

What was in speech, however, was a rebrand of promises made by the BC Liberals. Items like eliminating MSP premiums (although our elimination was a tax break…the NDP’s version is to add this elimination to your personal taxes), reduction in the student loan rate, and additional engineering seats at TRU and UNBC.

As the critic for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, mining and LNG are not mentioned once in terms of building these sectors as well as no mention of the “road map” Michelle Mungall’s mandate letter calls for.

The BC Hydro rate freeze they promised is now being reworded to “asking the BC Utilities Commission to freeze Hydro rates next year.”

Among other things there is no mention of the Mining Task Force and the scientific panel on fracking.

Things that pertain to Kootenay East.  No mention of fixing the B.C. camping reservation system and how they will put British Columbians first in line for camping spots. There is a mention on increasing the number of conservation officers but no real hard numbers on how many and then fail to mention the hiring of park rangers.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me is no mention of wildlife populations and an independent agency to facilitate a proper funding model to gather the proper scientific data needed to bring together a holistic wildlife/biodiversity/land use plan.

The omission of our ranching community and the continued funding for fencing and cost recovery for lost livestock due to predation was not in this speech as well. These are such big deals to our region and it is truly disappointing that this government has failed to recognize their importance. I will continue to work hard on these files.

I was happy to hear that this government will do what it can to bring prosperity to our local mills. The Softwood Lumber Dispute is real and affects our community greatly. I am glad there was mention of working hard to resolve this in the best interest of our local mills such as Galloway Lumber, which is a generational employer and good corporate citizens.

The budget will come out on February 20 and I look forward to seeing more details on how they will allocate resources to accomplish some of these goals they have laid out for the people of this province.

After starting a needless trade war with Alberta, the government offers no ideas to stimulate the economy or reassure investors.

This is a speech that promises more reviews and little action – the only certainty, you’re going to pay for it.

I will continue to work hard, to hold government to account, to be available to work across party lines, and to put our differences aside in order to do what is best for Kootenay East.

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