When will the handouts stop and the economic policies begin?

Written By Todd Corrigall

The Premier announced another increase, this time a one-year bonus payment to the B.C. Family Benefit.

Not surprisingly, the timing falls right before the interregnum period and government seizes to a halt until the writ is issued and a new mandate is asserted – or a coalition is formed.

Now, as the father of a young family, much like the Premier himself, investing in our future is never a bad idea. In fact, it’s a great idea. Supporting families and those on the margins of society is also important. 

But, to what end?

After four years of pandemics, endemics, an overdose crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, and a housing crisis, one thing is clear: Government handouts drive up inflation, which increases costs for everyone.

Pre-election goodies are a political tradition

Government handouts heading into an election are nothing new.

Heck, Christy Clark lamented leaving former premier John Horgan’s BC NDP with a significant surplus in 2017. She even speculated on a recent Hotel Pacifico podcast it may have led to the NDP/Green coalition that eventually formed government.

That was a time when balanced budgets no longer seemed to be in vogue and people were looking for extra benefits.

But, when you’re running a $7.9 billion deficit, likely spiking inflation, and not developing new economic opportunities, are more handouts needed, or is it time for real fiscal policy and restraint?

Major projects create community-sustaining jobs

On June 10, 2024, former BC NDP premier and president and COO of the Jim Pattison Group, Glen Clark, told attendees at the B.C Business Summit he was unsure if the current government had a coherent policy approach to the economy. 

“We need to shift focus from wealth distribution to wealth creation,” Clark told attendees.

“We need to shift focus from wealth distribution to wealth creation.”

Glen Clark

The ideal situation is to build an economy that is inclusive of all skill levels, education, knowledge, and more. What I have seen, living in the resource basket of B.C, is that investing in forestry, mining, along with oil and gas generates opportunities for people in all walks of life in our province.

Resource jobs provide excellent wages and benefits, opportunities to upskill, learn a trade, build a future, and support your family and community. 

But we need more investment in projects – not government handouts – to create those jobs. And we must get more clean B.C. resources to the global market. 

Nice as it is to receive free money from the government, there’s a cost. Increasing government dependency inevitably fuels, well, more government dependency.

If the province really believes en masse handouts are the path to vibrant and successful communities, maybe they need to hand out approvals for major projects instead. That way, we can avoid policy lurch, untenable tax regimes and create a sustainable, workable process for proponents.