Why Budget 2013 fails BC and the environment

By Murray Rankin, MP for Victoria

Budget 2013 came with the usual Conservative fanfare, and the usual lack of real action on the issues that matter to BC and Victoria. In fact, the word Victoria was not mentioned once in the budget.

After gutting habitat protection in the Fisheries Act and environmental assessment in previous budgets, the Conservatives proudly announced small amounts of money to local groups for ‘improve the conservation of fisheries habitat’.  The reality is this budget is devastating for salmon.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will be cut by $108 million over six years, starting with $4 million this year, $5 million next year, and $33 million per year in subsequent years.  This is on top of cuts announced last year.

The Conservatives have completely failed to protect BC`s wild salmon fishery, are still ignoring the Cohen report, and after the gutting of the Fisheries Act, Conservative commitments are completely inadequate for the protection of precious fish habitat.

As for the environment, they are trying to hide the very serious damage they have already inflicted-and as usual, they are offering insufficient support for sustainable energy resources. Climate change is not even mentioned in the budget.

For our cash-starved municipalities there was some infrastructure funding in Budget 2013, but the reality is that the next 4 years will see a reduction of $4.7 billion in federal infrastructure funding, a cut that will cost tens of thousands of jobs in communities across the country.

Another hit to our cities, which are already shouldering the burden of underfunding and the offloading of federal responsibilities, are the cuts to the Homelessness Partnership Strategy, which will be reduced by $15 million a year starting in 2014. Cuts to healthcare, OAS, EI, policing, corrections and infrastructure will all download billions in costs to the beleaguered provinces and municipalities.

Prime Minister Harper promised to focus on jobs in this budget, but instead he's pushing ahead with job-killing austerity cuts, introducing no new measures to create jobs. He is playing a shell game with skills training money and infrastructure funding. Harper promised he wouldn’t cut transfers to provinces or individuals, but he's cutting pensions, healthcare and EI while ignoring the serious threats now facing our fragile economy.

As the new MP for Victoria, I'm pleased to be part of the NDP Official Opposition. Our team is standing up for the issues that matter to Victoria and BC; jobs and skills training, environmental protection, health care, pensions, employment insurance and sustainable infrastructure funding. We will work even harder to build a fairer, greener and more prosperous Canada for all.