British Columbia’s NDP government is preparing to turn a $3.6-billion forecasted surplus into a whopping $4.2-billion deficit by spending on programs like bike lanes and free contraception. 

On Tuesday, finance minister Katrine Conroy presented the Budget and Fiscal Plan 2023/24-2025/26

Contained within are a series of hefty commitments including a $4.2 billion renters rebate in the form of a $400 tax credit, a $2.3 billion healthcare top up and $867 million in funding on addictions and mental health treatment.

“We know there are some economic headwinds ahead of us as the global economy shifts in
response to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and rising costs,” said Conroy in a press release.

“That’s not a signal for our government to pull back and cut services – it’s a signal that we need to keep making smart investments so that we can continue to be there for British Columbians and build the stronger, more secure future we all want.”

The BC government will also make contraception free throughout the province which will cost taxpayers $39 million beginning in 2023. The program will cover oral contraception, injections, intrauterine devices and Plan B. 

Also $100 million will go towards “active transportation” initiatives like new bike lanes, multi-use paths and cleaner modes of transportation. 

Other investments include a $9 million fund to establish the province’s fledgling Anti-racism Data Act, which was first introduced last year. 

“These steps further B.C.’s progress toward dismantling systemic racism and discrimination in British Columbia,” read the budget. 

BC director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) Carson Binda said that it’s unfair that taxpayers will be expected to pay for the government’s pet projects for years to come. 

“People who are struggling to afford groceries need tax relief, not a government spending money it doesn’t have on bike lanes,” Binda told True North. “The government should prioritize making life more affordable. But the government is making life more expensive with carbon tax hikes.”

“Eby is spending more money on everything forever, not actually picking or choosing what to prioritize. And that’s dragging taxpayers into more debt. A good magician can make a person vanish, but Eby is making a $3.6-billion surplus vanish,” he continued. 

BC’s budget came out on the same day as Alberta’s which earned praise from fiscal conservative groups.