Pre-election throne speech leaves poor out in the cold

    No minimum wage or welfare increases, few details on social spending in
    Liberal vision

    BURNABY, BC, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - Today's throne speech by the BC Liberal
government contains some good news for business but offers little to British
Columbians who will be hit the hardest as the province heads into a major
recession, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said in response.
    "During a recession the first responsibility of government is to take
care of people," said CUPE BC president Barry O'Neill. "In this economic
climate, raising welfare rates would be the right thing to do. But this throne
speech says nothing about the poverty incomes of people on welfare or earning
minimum wage."
    O'Neill said the Campbell government, in its final throne speech before
the May 12 election, has lost the one opportunity it had to undue the damage
done to people by cuts in social programs during its first term.
    "We find it interesting that the tolls on the Port Mann Bridge will go up
faster than the minimum wage," said O'Neill.
    CUPE is also concerned that the throne speech sends yet another signal
that the provincial government intends to interfere with the right of local
governments to manage their own taxes.
    "With its plan for property taxes, the government has said it intends to
further erode the right of municipalities to set priorities for their own
communities," said O'Neill. "This comes on top of an accelerated Trade
Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) that will give corporations
rights at the expense of local governments."
    O'Neill concluded that a new Wood Innovation and Design Centre planned
for Prince George is good news, but that the government should have passed a
law banning the export of raw logs.
    "That would have given the province much more to 'innovate' with, rather
than watching all those thousands of jobs disappear," he said.

For further information:

For further information: Barry O'Neill, president CUPE BC: (604)
340-6768; Dan Gawthrop, Communications representative: (604) 999-6132

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - BC Regional

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