Rod Taylor, Telkwa, BC – “On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, I had the opportunity, along with others from the Bulkley Valley to present suggestions and concerns to the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services who are receiving public input prior to the development of next year’s provincial budget. When I arrived at the hearings in Smithers at 8 Am, I was pleased to see that Mark Penninga, head of ARPA was also presenting.
Mark was first to speak and his very astute and focused comments can be heard on the audio link from about 5 minutes into the webcastm until about 15 minutes. My presentation starts at the 25-minute mark, and goes to about 33 minutes.
A number of other submissions were also presented on a variety of topics.
The transcript of my remarks is also provided below. I’ve not checked the transcript for errors.”
Remarks made by Rod Taylor, Interim Leader of CHP-BC, to the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
“… I want to thank every member of the committee, the Hansard Services and the support staff that are with you. It’s great that you do come to the north, and I appreciate the opportunity to address these concerns.
I just yesterday morning basically got confirmation that I would be speaking today. It was short notice for me, so I haven’t covered all the topics that could be covered. I have not even touched on education. But I have a few points that I would like to make to you.
I am the interim leader of the Christian Heritage Party of British Columbia. That’s the capacity in which I’m speaking. I also work serving as the deputy leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada.
The purpose of any budgetary process must be to design a balanced and workable budget. Over the past four years B.C.’s provincial debt has ballooned from $26 billion to $39 billion. Based on current projections, B.C.’s debt could reach $69 billion by March of 2016, putting every man, woman and child in B.C. in debt to the tune of $15,000 per person. That’s approaching the same level we are at federally. It should be a concern to all of us and certainly will be an issue that our children and grandchildren will have to deal with.
Debt-servicing costs will top $2.5 billion this year, a budgetary cost only exceeded by the ministries of Health and Education. We all know that that $2.5 billion could be put to much better use providing needed services for British Columbians.
To break this cycle of government debt and deficit, government must reduce costs, live within its means and within the means of the taxpayer, and must make concerted and disciplined efforts to pay down the debt.
To this end, the B.C. government, in my opinion, should reduce the cost of government by trimming departments, where possible, and lowering thresholds for salaries and benefits for all MLAs, government staff, management of Crown corporations and all B.C. civil servants to bring them into line with those of the average British Columbian.
A recent poll of British Columbians conducted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation found that 80 percent of residents believe government wages and benefits should be brought into line with those in the private sector.
Corporations such as B.C. Ferries and B.C. Hydro work for the taxpayer, not the other way around. Executive compensation should be trimmed significantly and any perks or bonuses should be performance related. Rising costs for hydro customers and ferry passengers are not the kind of performance that deserves a raise.
B.C. could reduce health care costs by removing abortion, which cures no diseases and creates additional health care problems, from the list of procedures covered by B.C. med. Abortion has been given the sacred cow status by successive B.C. governments to the point where B.C. citizens cannot find out, even through freedom-of-information requests, the numbers and types of abortion procedures conducted in the province, nor the actual cost of such procedures, nor the medical complications resulting from them.
While private clinics providing real health care are discouraged by Canada’s health care system, private clinics where babies are killed operate in British Columbia at taxpayer expense with little or no requirement for reporting or oversight.
Based on numbers from the abortion industry itself and government figures from previous years, we believe about 15,000 surgical abortions take place in B.C. each year at an estimated cost of $20 million. The real numbers may be much higher. Follow-up appointments to repair surgical damage and the very real social costs to mothers and society in general, of course, are not included in those figures.
Fifteen thousand missing children each year means a loss of 500 classrooms and 500 teacher positions every year. It means 15,000 fewer employees and taxpaying citizens entering the workforce. Certainly, it’s both a moral and a fiscal problem for British Columbia.
We believe B.C. should remove gender reassignment surgery and all elective surgeries from taxpayer-funded procedures. We’re all familiar with crowded hospitals and waiting lines for essential health care procedures. It does not make sense for British Columbians to be paying for a procedure which is politically motivated, questionable in its results and sometimes harmful.
The B.C. government should reduce or eliminate its dependence on lotteries as a source of revenues. Lotteries and casinos have proven negative impact on families in British Columbia, and their harm far outweighs the tempting benefits of so-called free money. No item of value whatsoever is produced by gambling. Existing pools of resources that might have been used for the benefit of families are reduced, and unrealistic expectations of gain are heightened. For the government to promote and benefit from gambling at the expense of the poor is unconscionable.
We also should eliminate carbon taxes, as this unnecessary burden on B.C. citizens does not solve the environmental challenges faced by British Columbia but adds additional red tape and costs to our complicated lives. Again, it is an approach designed to appease those who are truly concerned about the environment but has itself created additional costly bureaucracy without appreciably reducing human impact.
Now I come to the good part. I would like to commend the B.C. government for its ongoing work on improving B.C. highways. Making it easier and safer for British Columbians and visitors to travel within our province is a benefit to families, to our provincial economy and for our ability to attract both business and tourism.
If I have any complaint about B.C.’s highways, it is sometimes in the north here a delayed response to winter storms, allowing the buildup of snow and ice, especially on the weekends. Such conditions do create additional safety hazards on northern roads, occasionally contributing to fatal or crippling accidents. When road conditions deteriorate following a heavy snow, the application of salt and large-diameter gravel then produces dangerous slush and frequent damage to windshields. An early and continuous response by snowplows and graders could reduce slush, ice buildup and the need for heavy applications of salt and large gravel.
Since weather conditions vary from one year to the next, it is not possible to set absolute budgets for winter road maintenance. Public safety must be the prime consideration. In terms of cost savings, the daily tasks of winter road maintenance may be contracted out, but the actual responsibility for public safety cannot be privatized. It rests with the ministry of highways and with the government.
Thank you very much for hearing these concerns. It’s not a complete list but some items that are of prime concern to us. We do wish you God’s wisdom and guidance as you make the difficult decisions you make, budgetary and otherwise, on behalf of all British Columbians. Thank you very much.”