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B.C. Budget 2023: Premier Eby bets big

B.C. Budget 2023: Premier Eby bets big


Written by
Jason Craik

Jason Craik


With record investments into housing, healthcare and affordability measures, Budget 2023 signals Premier David Eby’s focus is on the issues that are currently top of mind for British Columbians—but with limited lead time before an October 2024 fixed election date, the BC NDP will need to make undeniable progress on these core issues if they have an expectation of a record third term.

Paired with these massive investments is a sobering assessment of British Columbia's economic near future from Minister of Finance, Katrine Conroy, where she notes that due to the slowing of what has been a red-hot economy, she’s projecting lower-than-expected revenues in the coming years and is forecasting three years of declining deficits.

Now for nearly two decades, “deficit” was a word that was banished by law from being spoken in the B.C. Legislature come spring budget time, but the pandemic proved that if the problem were serious enough, the sometimes-fickle B.C. public could easily stomach borrowing costs to ensure appropriate service levels were maintained. And it’s certainly getting harder to argue these days that the affordability and healthcare issues facing the province aren’t reaching existential levels.

But important to the longevity of this government will be showing British Columbians that the same fiscal acumen exhibited during Premier Horgan’s time at the helm remains with Premier Eby now leading the way.

Following the Budget Speech, Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon, and the soon-to-be rechristened B.C. Liberal Caucus immediately went on the offensive, positing the question to British Columbians—“is your life better after 6 years of the B.C. NDP?” And they’re telling anyone that will listen that the province just can’t afford another four more years of this government.

Sound familiar? It’s because it's nearly word for word the rally cry that saw then Opposition Leader John Horgan energize crowds across the province, propelling him into the Premier’s seat after a razor-close 2017 campaign, where the ballot box question became just that—“can you really afford another four years of Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals?”

Is time truly a flat circle? And we’re doomed to repeat ourselves?

Or will these historic investments into the areas that most need it be enough to make a dent in what successive governments have seemingly failed to address after all these years?

Hat’s off to Premier Eby for aiming for the stars with this budget. But now it’s up to the public, who only have another 18 months to decide if it’s enough to fend off a rejuvenated opposition party. One that seems highly motivated after spending the last six years out in the wilderness.

——— Jason Craik is a former Director, Corporate and Public Affairs at NATIONAL Public Relations


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