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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

MLA Todd Stone -- Dark economic storm clouds are thickening on BC’s horizon


USED WITH PERMISSION


THE BEGINNING OF 2020 marks the fourth calendar year with the NDP government in office and as we look ahead to the start of the new legislative session in February, I find myself reflecting on these last few shaky years under John Horgan’s leadership.

When the BC Liberals left government in 2017, the NDP inherited a $2.7 billion surplus, and yet after only a few years in power, we see the budget teetering on the edge of deficit — despite the government bringing in an additional $10 billion in tax revenue through their 19 new and increased taxes.
 
Kamloops S. Thompson MLA Todd Stone
NDP taxes such as the Employer Health Tax (EHT) have been increasing the financial burden on B.C. businesses, and as such, small business confidence in B.C. has plummeted. At the end of last year, small businesses in the province reported some of the lowest levels of confidence since 2009.

Small businesses are not the only employers facing increased pressure under the current government as over the last year, we have watched the worst forestry crisis in 40 years unfold throughout the province. Thousands of B.C. workers are out of jobs after dozens of mill shutdowns and shift curtailments rocked forestry-dependent communities and the families who call them home.

While the crisis increased in severity month after month, hard-hit communities waited for action from their government, hoping for some show of support and relief for those struggling. Instead, British Columbians watched as their government ignored the very existence of the crisis for months.

As a result of poor NDP leadership over the past year, we saw in November the staggering loss of 25,800 private-sector jobs in B.C, making it abundantly clear that the government’s complete lack of a jobs plan is taking its toll.

The NDP have no plan to grow the economy. They have no goals or strategies to generate jobs. And as workers lose jobs across the province, the government is doing little to support important infrastructure projects like the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which are significant job creators.


It is becoming clearer every day that this government is failing to address the needs of this province — repeatedly falling short on many of their promises to British Columbians. The NDP repeatedly made promises of affordability and have simply not delivered.

ICBC rates have skyrocketed under this government, they have dramatically underperformed on childcare – delivering only 2,055 of the promised 24,000 child care spaces, with no widespread implementation of $10 a day childcare – and their affordable housing plan has been an abysmal failure – delivering only 2,400 of the 114,000 new affordable housing units they promised, all the while continuing to ignore the need for more housing supply.

As we get ready for the next legislative session in Victoria this February, dark economic storm clouds are thickening on B.C.’s horizon. Many people in B.C. are hurting and it’s time for this government to step up and get to work.

I hope that when the premier shows up at the legislature next month, he’s ready to finally address the serious challenges facing this province — British Columbians deserve nothing less from their government.


Todd Stone was elected MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. He currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic for Municipal Affairs, Housing and TransLink and is a Member of the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives.

Todd has served as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister Responsible for Emergency Management BC and Deputy Government House Leader. He was also a member of the Priorities and Planning Committee of Cabinet.

Before being elected to the BC Legislature, Todd was founder and CEO of Kamloops-based software company, iCompass Technologies. He is the former vice chair of the Thompson Rivers University Board of Governors, and has served on the boards of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and Kamloops Thompson United Way.

Todd has lived in Kamloops for 30 years. He and his wife Chantelle have been married for 19 years and have three daughters, ages 15, 12 and 9.

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