LETTER: The more things change

The Feb. 17 News article “Hospitals to lose beds” gives a clue as to why Christy Clark’s approval rating is ...

The Feb. 17 News article “Hospitals to lose beds” gives a clue as to why Christy Clark’s approval rating is among the lowest for premiers across the country.

Even the recent tweaking of MSP premiums has avoided anything that might resemble progressive taxation.

We know that MSP premiums bring more to the government coffers than do natural gas, mining and forestry revenues combined – in spite of the charges paid the American company for collecting this not-so-hidden tax – between 10 and 15 per cent annually. Perhaps if MSP premiums were instead collected via the income tax system, local hospital beds could afford to stay open.

But there’s a problem here: MSP premiums enter “general revenue” rather than being directed to health care.

You’d think we’d have sufficient general revenue from other sources. After all, our government collects dividends from both B.C. Hydro and ICBC.

Of course, there’s a problem here as well. B.C. Hydro does not itself have money in the bank – that particular entity has to borrow to pay dividends to our province. Borrowing results in interest, interest results in higher costs to B.C. Hydro, and those costs result in higher electricity rates for the B.C. taxpayer. And I doubt I have to remind anyone of the direction ICBC rates are heading.

We also know that debt in our province continues to increase, with the overall figure expected to top $70 billion by next year. And all this is considered “good fiscal management?”

In the May 2, 2008 issue of the Vancouver Sun, Harvey Enchin wrote a very insightful article on that year’s provincial budget. Here are a couple of excerpts: “When Carole Taylor introduced the provincial budget in February, I questioned how the government could call it balanced when it clearly showed spending in excess of revenue.” … “Since the government conveniently omits Crown corporation debt when it calculates ratios based on ‘taxpayer-supported ‘debt,’ it seemed reasonable to me to ignore the revenue as well.”

The more things change, etc.

Regina Dalton