In this special issue of the BC Construction Monitor, we return to the choices before British Columbians in a provincial election now just days away. The NDP’s budget plan is dangerous and deceptive. Wildly optimistic even if its many omissions and faulty assumptions are overlooked, the platform in fact represents a multi-billion dollar setback to BC’s hard-earned status as a well-managed province that spends your hard-earned tax dollars carefully. Even the NDP acknowledges that while it “aims to balance the budget in every year as government”, it will not do so “at the expense” of its spending plans.
Clearly, they have no plan to do so at all. Instead the NDP will be responsible for soaring debt, higher taxes, a weaker construction sector, and uncertainty in the future of our province. Analyses of the most significant costing errors and accounting deficiencies in the NDP plan, highlighted in this Monitor, make that clear. As for the Green Party, the positions it’s taken would be equally damaging to our province. The Green voice for “No” to responsible resource and infrastructure projects is as resoundingly loud as that of the NDP. With the potential for a minority government, the Greens are not a harmless place to park a vote.
The party platforms reinforce the urgency of re-electing a BC Liberal government. It is the only party with a program designed to grow rather than sideline our province – an economy that is continuing to out-perform the rest of Canada. In our view, a vote for the BC Liberals is a vote for a healthy construction sector, jobs and opportunity for young people, and a stronger British Columbia.
The NDP Debt Disaster: Reckless Spending Mortgages our Future
Elimination of bridge tolls, construction of more than 100,000 new housing units and other NDP measures would result in a roughly $18 billion increase in taxpayer- supported debt over four years. And the consequence of that would be credit downgrades, higher interest costs and higher taxes.
Source: BC Liberal Party analysis, BC Budget.
NDP Bureaucracy and Barriers
Platform commitments like these are tailor-made to choke off growth and construction jobs, and will plunge BC further into red ink.
- “Use every tool in our toolbox to stop Kinder Morgan from going ahead.”
- “Renew” environmental assessment legislation and processes, and review natural gas fracking – likely stopping a proven technology and costing us jobs and investment in the North.
- Put new conditions on LNG development – including an NDP-designed environmental assessment process that will scare away new investment in BC.
- Implement a “roadmap for the future of BC energy” – a plan reminiscent of government actions in Ontario that have driven energy prices sky high for consumers and small businesses.
- End the principle of revenue-neutrality for the carbon tax, with proceeds instead to be directed to rebate cheques and government-determined “climate change solutions”.
For the construction sector, one particularly worrying NDP commitment is to mandate ratios of apprentices to journeypersons on government-funded projects. This government intervention in project management has been done before, and creates inefficiencies and higher costs, and limits access to entry-level construction jobs for young workers. Union-only procurement is a short step away.
Source: NDP Platform.
Union-Only Construction – The Ontario Experience
Union-only tendering on major public projects would likely return to BC under an NDP government. In Ontario and other jurisdictions where this exists, privileged-access for unions to taxpayer-funded work reduces competition, drives up costs, and denies work to small construction companies.
Source: Merit Canada, Ontario MPPs, Hamilton Spectator, Cardus.
Independent Experts Weigh in on NDP Plan
Non-partisan experts agree on the dangers of the NDP budget plan, as these highlights from an independent analysis by senior economists show. Their conclusion: The NDP won’t be able to sustain its plan “without a major reduction in political promises, and additional tax revenues”.
1. Eliminate MSP fee, freeze BC Hydro rates, freeze ICBC rates; impact is of full implementation.
Sources: Fiscal Assessment of the 2017 NDP Election Platform; C. Scott Clark and Peter T. Devries; April 2017 – goo.gl/DluYKy
Green Party Platform – Construction Jobs Will Suffer
The Greens are unequivocal in saying “No” to opportunities for responsible resource development and to badly needed major infrastructure upgrades (see next page).
The Greens propose to boost spending by $3.2 billion annually on average, in what the Vancouver Sun calls “one of the most expensive platforms ever presented”. They rely on contingencies, growth and questionable assumptions to balance the budget over four years – but still plan tax increases cumulatively totaling more than $9 billion.
From a “tax system that is structured to meet spending needs”, to the appointment of various new oversight bodies such as a Fair Wages Commission, the Greens want government to be much more involved in the day-to-day lives of British Columbians.
Source: Green Party Platform
Getting to YES on the Responsible Resource Development Projects BC Needs
Responsible resource development and major infrastructure projects are vital to prosperity and to quality of life. Polls show that most British Columbians understand this and want these projects to proceed. Several especially large and important ones are either underway or on the cusp of seeing shovels in the ground. But the opposition parties are set to bring every one of them to a grinding halt.