"Balanced" budget will see more cuts to services and asset fire sale

BURNABY, BC, Feb. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - The Liberal government's supposedly balanced budget will come at a high cost to public sector workers and the people and businesses that rely on quality public services.

"After a decade of budget and staffing cuts, extending the hiring freeze will lead to the loss of another 1,350 public sector jobs and most ministries are facing budget cuts or small increases well below the rate of inflation," says Darryl Walker BCGEU president. 

"Our justice system and Community Living BC are both in crisis. Neither are getting the meaningful budget increases they desperately need. Community and social service workers are the lowest paid workers in our health care system. They will see no increase. The Ministry of Children and Family Development will be unable to adequately serve the most vulnerable people in our society. These are just a few examples. BCGEU members know all too well that budget cuts have undermined the delivery of all public services," says Walker. 

Many of these service cuts will also have a direct negative impact on the economy. The most obvious example is the enormous permit backlog in our natural resource sector. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is facing a budget cut of almost $40 million, the biggest single cut in ministry spending. There is no reason to believe the permit backlog will be cleared. The economic activity and job creation of our natural resources sector will continue to be squandered. 

Also troubling is the sell-off of important public assets. The Liberals plan to sell almost twice as many public assets in the next two years as they sold off in all of the 2000's. This sell-off comes at a time of declining land prices and is not the time to sell surplus assets. 

The government has also failed to use the carbon tax to create new revenue. The carbon tax will not be increased, expanded or broadened to include industrial process emissions. "Reducing B.C. greenhouse gas emissions is critical to addressing climate change and must be the responsibility of all of us," says Walker.

SOURCE: B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information:

Evan Stewart, BCGEU Communications (604) 220-3095.

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