B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver speaks to reporters in Victoria (Black Press files)

B.C. Greens would raise taxes, run deficits

Green leader Andrew Weaver releases costing for sweeping promises

Income tax, carbon tax, corporate tax, real estate tax and natural resource royalties would all go up immediately under a B.C. Green Party government, according to platform costing released by leader Andrew Weaver.

Even after counting as revenue the economic growth predicted by the B.C. Liberal budget, and contingency fees built into it, the Greens still project a deficit of $146 million next year and another $71 million in the red for 2019-20.

Weaver released the platform costing in Vancouver Monday, the last major party in the May 9 election to do so. He noted that many people are “barely making enough to pay the bills” as things stand today.

The biggest jump in the Green fiscal plan is “revenue to replace MSP premiums,” the Medical Services Plan fees paid by individuals and employers that Weaver has promised to transfer to income tax. The Green plan puts that revenue at $210 million for the current fiscal year, jumping to $810 million in 2018-19, not counting economic growth.

Carbon tax would begin increasing on Jan. 1, 2018, expanding two years later to include vented emissions from natural gas and forest slash burning. Carbon tax revenues would rise to $265 million next year and reach $865 million by 2020.

Weaver’s big-ticket promises include expanding kindergarten to three- and four-year-olds, plus no-charge daycare for working parents until children turn three. The bill for “lifelong learning” is by far the largest in the Green platform, reaching nearly $3 billion by 2020 on top of existing education spending.

Weaver has matched NDP leader John Horgan’s promise of a dedicated mental health ministry and adds another ministry for “health promotion, disease prevention and active lifestyles.” These functions are performed within the existing health ministry, which consumes nearly half of provincial revenues today.

The Green costing for “healthy lives” would go up by $128 million for the two years starting in the spring of 2018.

By next year, the Greens propose to raise an additional $200 million on taxes of people making $100,000 a year and up, $500 million from an increased and graduated property transfer tax, $250 million from a one-per-cent increase in corporate tax and another $100 million from “natural resource rents, fees, licences.”