B.C. NDP reveal full cost of election platform
Critics say tax hikes planned for companies would harm B.C.'s economic outlook
B.C.'s New Democrats revealed the full cost of their election platform, saying in an announcement in Vancouver Thursday that they would maintain the same deficits that they say already exist under the Liberal government.
NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston and former leader Carole James laid out the details of the party's bottom line, and said an NDP government would increase corporate tax, reinstate the capital tax for financial institutions, raise personal income tax for high earners and expand the carbon tax.
NDP Finance Critic Bruce Ralston says the NDP's fiscal plan is all about boosting revenues and spending.
"We're being upfront about the way in which we are going to pay for what we regard as important public programs," he said.
Ralson and James repeated a promise by Leader Adrian Dix that, if elected, the NDP would increase the corporate income tax from 11 to 12 per cent, saying it would generate an extra $200 million in revenue for the province.
The personal income tax rate on net taxable income earned above $150,000 per year would also rise to 19 per cent from 16.8 per cent, but only on earnings above that threshold.
For someone earning $200,000, that could raise their personal income tax by an extra $1,100 a year, Ralston estimated.
The carbon tax would not increase but would expand to include venting emissions from the oil and gas sector, he added.
The party would also cancel a $1,200 RESP program from this year's budget and redirect the funding towards education, said James.
Balanced budget in four years
Ralston said the NDP would run a $790 million deficit in its first year as government, and its goal would be to balance the budget within four years.
"We've been very prudent and very clear, unlike the B.C. Liberals," said Ralston, who last week criticized the Liberals for underestimating the size of the provincial budget deficit by about $800 million by booking the sale of government assets, even though there were no signed deals in place.
Ralston said Thursday an NDP government would "respect" any sale agreements already signed, but might take other properties off the market.
The party will roll out further details of how they would spend the extra revenue from the proposed tax increases and reallocate other Liberal spending during the upcoming election campaign, said James.
Critics blast fiscal plan
The announcement comes just days before the official launch of the election campaign and follows criticism from B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark of the NDP for not releasing the cost of the party's platform.
The B.C. Liberals say the plan is fatally flawed, and B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the NDP's plan would harm B.C.'s credit rating.
"If the NDP were give the opportunity to implement this plan, British Columbia's credit will be downgraded. That is a certainty," de Jong said.
Iain Black, president and CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade, said the tax hikes will push investors to take their money elsewhere.
"This is not good for our economy. It is not good for job creation. It is not good for the future of British Columbia's ability to take it's rightful place on the global stage," Black said.
Voters will get a chance to compare the policies of all four parties when leaders of the New Democrat, B.C. Liberal, B.C. Conservative and B.C. Green parties gather April 29 at 6:30 p.m. PT for an all candidates' debate.
The B.C. election takes place on May 14.
With files from the CBC's Renee Filippone and The Canadian Press