Our View: Budget has two sides

There’s much to praise, but a few worries with the NDP’s budget update.

Most of the items highlighted in the new NDP government’s budget update are things that have been a long time coming.

Increasing social assistance and disability assistance? The Liberals starved social programs of money for years, leaving the vulnerable behind.

A good chunk of money for modular housing for the homeless and more affordable housing? Again, desperately needed as the number of people living on the streets skyrockets.

Education? From elementary to adult and ESL, it’s an investment in B.C.’s future.

Other items, even crowd-pleasers, are going to have more far-reaching consequences.

First, there’s the elimination of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges.

It’s possible this will be one of the first promises the NDP both keep and have to break, later.

Removing the tolls has had the effect of immediately causing traffic jams on the Port Mann. Meanwhile, TransLink will need some kind of cash infusion to keep expanding, and road pricing – which might mean tolling all Lower Mainland bridges and tunnels – is one of the methods preferred by mayors. Don’t be surprised if the NDP puts a lower toll in place, in the future.

They’ve also broken their first promise, at least for now, with no sign of universal $10 a day child care in this budget update. Maybe next year?

The NDP is going to make a big splash. The Liberals left money on the table, and the economy is in high gear. But the NDP knows that 2.9 per cent annual economic growth won’t last forever. Social investments are much needed. But there will always be limits.

– M.C.

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