Dude, Where's My Province?

Last modified on August 17th, 2009

Ok seriously. What the hell is going on in our province? First, Gordon Campbell springs the Harmonized Sales Tax on everyone, saying it will create jobs and somehow help the economy. I obviously voiced my concerns over that move, especially since the public seemed to be caught completely off-guard with the whole decision.

As we all know, the 2010 Olympics are just on the horizon. We also know that several cruise ship lines recently pulled out of Vancouver since it’s a more expensive destination than surrounding ports, such as Seattle. Given how much money tourism generates in BC, you’d think it would be a vital industry to preserve. Well, today the government announced that Tourism BC is being shut down, and somehow merged into the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Art:

The government thinks the decision will save money and improve the co-ordination of marketing campaigns. But NDP tourism critic Spencer Herbert believes it’s retribution for the tourism industry’s criticism of the government, “I think this is a big attack, in a sense, on the tourism industry. They are coming after them because they have been speaking out against the HST.” Herbert adds, “It’s a good way for the government to neuter the independents of the file and to get rid of the best advocates for tourism.”

And if that wasn’t enough, the rumor mill is flying with impending cuts to the health-care budget in BC. Given how strained the current system is, and the obvious negative affect of health-care slashes in the past, it’s really ludicrous that health care budget cuts are even on the table:

The Fraser Health Authority will cut elective surgeries by 10 to 15 per cent, place a cap on MRI procedures and reduce management positions in an effort to meet a budget shortfall of up to $160-million that the opposition alleges was hidden from the public during the last provincial election.

The region plans to balance its budget by cutting back-room costs and slashing $15-million in front line services such as surgeries, president and chief executive officer Nigel Murray said.

“Cost growth in the health sector is fairly relentless,” Dr. Murray said. “Yes, we are facing significant budget challenges.”

The FHA is the province’s fastest-growing and most populous health region. B.C.’s six health authorities face a $360-million shortfall.

New Democrat Health Critic Adrian Dix said the Liberal government failed to increase funding at the same pace as inflation and staff costs. He said 6,000 to 9,000 surgeries will be put off by Fraser Health in the next year.

“These are all serious medically necessary surgeries [being cancelled]…it’s political incompetence, it’s misleading politics, and its political cowardice,” said Mr. Dix, who suspects vascular and thoracic will be among the services affected. “It means that people will be waiting longer and longer in pain.”

It’s really disheartening to see where this province is heading, and I think the decisions being made are once again short-sighted and will ultimately hurt everyone in this province. Having been through several surgeries this last year, and seen several family members sick and in the hospital, I really can’t imagine our health care system taking another beating, and am disappointed if the rumors are true in that area.

13 responses to “Dude, Where's My Province?”

  1. Marc says:

    Just a note. Mr. Delaney is actually the Deputy Leader of the BC Conservative Party (www.conservativesbc.com). This was an op/ed piece that ran in the Strait.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Good to know. Maybe I should find a better quote.

  3. The HST is a tax grab.

    I actually have no problem with harmonizing tax. In my perfect world there would be income tax, sales tax, corporate tax and that’s about it.

    Complexity sucks. More taxes equals more complexity.

    The issue is that there is an increase in tax revenue for the government. I have no problem with higher taxes IF you can justify the increase. There has been no justification here.

    The second point that no one has talked about is that harmonization is completely counter to the previous BC Liberal stance. There was a shift from programs being paid for out of general tax revenue to being paid for out of MSP and other user fees.

    What happened to harmonization then?

  4. I actually openly wept when I heard they canned Tourism BC. Then I shouted some words that are not repeatable in polite company. Next time you check, we’ll be part of the US, providing Campbell can get a kick-back on the sale.

  5. Duane Storey says:

    I think we should tie Campbell to a fast ferry and let it sail off into the distance.

  6. Duncan says:

    This just further proves my concerns with a Gov’t run health care system. Cuts before your quality of treatment because their budget is more important than your health. Bigger government is always a bad idea and BC is the poster child of what happens when you get to much Gov’t control. Tourism BC going the way of the Dodo is likely due to the amount of publicity BC is already getting due to the upcoming Olympics. It’s likely a calculated bet that tourism will naturally increase over the next several years as a result, so less need to have an expensive tourism division in a recession that could last much longer than we know

  7. Kimm says:

    I think its sad that they are canning tourism BC. A field that I want to get into.

    IF we didn’t have the freakin money in the 1st place why the hell did we put a bid in for the Olympics???? Personally I think all top government exec need a huge pay cut and every government employee needs to take stop getting away with murder and start going 100% green by taking transit/car pool or walking to work.

    Another thing would be if the government wants to travel it SHOULD be out of their own pocket not BC’s.

  8. Boris Mann says:

    Did you vote in the last provincial election? Do you think you/more of us should get involved in the political process?

    Further recommended reading is David Eaves’ “Eat the Young!” post – http://eaves.ca/2009/08/14/eat-the-young/

  9. Duane Storey says:

    Yup, I voted in the last election, and I didn’t vote for Campbell (although, I highly suspect my guy would have sucked too).

    I think more of us should be involved. I don’t really know what the involvement would entail though. The problem is one of accountability in my mind. Right now Campbell doesn’t really have any. What he says on TV all the time just seems like rhetoric.

  10. Duane Storey says:

    @Duncan — well, it’s our budget to, and I think balancing the budget is important. But there’s something fundamentally wrong if we can’t balance our books without cutting basic services. I actually think a balanced budget should be legally required for every province, or at least a plan to get us to that place. If the province were a mortgage, and you couldn’t afford your mortgage payment when interest rates went up, most would argue that you were overextended on your mortgage and shouldn’t have taken it out. Likewise, if the province can’t remain fiscally responsible even in a time of recession, I would say that they’ve put way too many eggs into the wrong basket.

  11. Boris Mann says:

    Balanced budgets are not the be-all and end-all — have you heard the phrase “spend money to make money”? Esp. in the case of something like Tourism (since you touched on it), invested money up front can equal more money returned, down the line.

    In many governments, “balanced budget” is code for “cutting services”. In other words, economics is hard 😛

  12. Duane Storey says:

    That’s scary talk, dude. You should be able to balance the budget without incurring more debt — not being able to is exactly how you dig yourself a big hole that you can’t get out of.

    Ever heard the term leveraging? It’s where you use someone else’s money and attempt to make more money from it. It’s probably one of the most risky investment strategies around, since it not only amplifies gains, it also amplifies losses. So when you talk about spending money to make money, there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your money already. But if you’re borrowing money hoping for a return down the line, that’s leveraging, and it’s extremely risky.

  13. I think the issue with Tourism BC is that they duplicate a lot of what the Ministry of Tourism and VANOC do.

    Do we really need 3 different marketing companies with 3 different marketing budgets?

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