Believe it or not

No shortage of ways for Finance Minister Kevin Falcon to reduce the provincial deficit

Kevin Falcon, minister of finance, deputy premier and who knows what else, made some announcements Jan. 10 regarding the provincial economy and its indebtedness. The announcements were made to thwart the efforts of government employees to seek a pay raise.

He emphatically said that there is no money for that to happen. Evidently, the government employees in question haven’t been following the ongoing saga of the teacher-government gambit. The minister has stated that there is a shortfall of $450 million that he hopes to recoup by 2013-2014. Again, some smoke and mirror tactics. He is going on the assumption that his party will still form the government. Who knows?

Minister Falcon has opened a webpage and welcomes — yes, welcomes — suggestions as to how the province can attain this. Correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t that the job of the finance minister? If not, what is his job mandate and why is he salaried?

If one were to make use of the minister’s website to make suggestions as to how to save money it might go something like this:

Bring MLA salaries back to a level of reality, as they are only in sessions for about 38 days a year. Maybe a 15 to 20 per cent rollback on MLA salaries and expenses might be in order

Maybe a hefty rollback or a decrease in staff in the upper echelon of ICBC where the 50 top ICBC employees collectively garner almost $14 million might be a viable way to save. If you average that out, it comes to about $280,000 per person overall, according to a FOI search. This doesn’t take into consideration the rank and file in the trenches (offices and other outlets) who do the legwork to make ICBC function. How many hundreds of employees is that, and at what cost? It brings into question that if the government is going to be taking $750 million from ICBC over the next three years to save the taxpayers money on borrowing, why the need for an increase in insurance premiums? Where’s the saving to the taxpayers?

Reduce the income and benefits of Crown corporation executives. Why do they warrant such high paycheques and benefits? I’m sorry Mr. Falcon, I don’t buy the argument that paying high salary and benefit packages, including ridiculous severance packages, always means that the best person has been hired to fill that position. In a P.T. Barnum world, you’d be sitting front row centre.

Make “quality spending” a priority instead of putting a $600 million roof on B.C. Place stadium. The touted “Families First” should be a reality program and not a political buzzword program. Some of that overrated and overpriced roof could have made a difference to our child poverty situation.

Yes, Mr. Finance Minister, it is true, there are economic shortfalls in the province and the money cupboard is somewhat bare. Think back as to why this is? The answer is quite simple.

Your government has been penny-wise and pound foolish, so to speak. Many dollars spent by your government have been frittered away on political balderdash. Thanks for the invitation to help save the economic day.

Ron Barillaro





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