Vaughn Palmer: B.C. Budget 2024 bleeds red ink, with no cure in sight

Vancouver Sun | Vaughn Palmer | February 22, 2024

Opinion: Finance minister says balanced budget is the NDP goal, but no hint of when that might be achieved. Not soon, for sure

VICTORIA — Finance Minister Katrine Conroy made no apologies Thursday for bringing in a three-year budget and fiscal plan that was awash in an atmospheric river’s worth of red ink.

The revised three-year plan also calls for adding $61 billion in debt, leading to an almost 60 per cent increase in the total provincial debt since Eby took office.

Yet Conroy maintained all these deficits and debt represented “tough” but unavoidable choices in challenging times.

People need help to make ends meet, she argued. They are more dependent than ever on government services. She suggested that only a heartless right-wing government would have tried to manage spending and borrowing to different results.

Alas for her, to imagine an alternative, there is no need to think back to the dark, satanic budget-making of the last B.C. Liberal government or the presumed scorched-earth election platforms of the B.C. United and B.C. Conservative parties.

The John Horgan NDP government took power with an ambitious agenda and a determination to increase funding to services that were neglected by the previous B.C. Liberal government.

It also governed through a genuine crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, Horgan and his two finance ministers, Carole James and Selina Robinson, managed to deliver four surplus budgets in six tries.

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