BRITISH COLUMBIA – Somebody, somewhere, somehow, needs to put the brakes on greedy governments at every level across the country.
While consumers try to come to grips with the cost of everything due to inflation, civic governments in particular have been pasting property owners with astronomical tax increases in recent years, with no end in sight.
Osoyoos residents were informed last November that they would be facing a nearly 40 percent average hike in municipal taxes. Rates vary throughout the province, but annual hikes are typically in the neighborhood of 10 percent – or higher.
Zero percent is also an option. as is cutting back civic services. Despite what civic leaders may say, it really is within the realm of possibility for cities and towns to tighten their belts and live within their means.
They’re not even hiding it anymore. It’s almost like they convene at the Union of BC Municipalities gatherings and collectively decide to introduce similar tax hikes en masse, eliminating the possibility of one city holding the line, and being held up as a measuring stick for fiscal prudence to other jurisdictions.
Combine this incessant climb upwards with Ottawa’s solution to get Canada through the Covid catastrophe, which eventually has to be paid for, and that time is now. Inflation is the natural result when a government prints money as it has.
Higher interest rates and the Trudeau government’s insistence on carbon tax increases are manifesting themselves with higher prices at the gas pumps, as well as anything and everything that uses petroleum to power their vehicles to get products into the hands of consumers. Non-business-thinking governments hike the minimum wage, failing to accept the end reality – that when the cost of paying employees goes up, so must the price of goods and services to pay that. And on it goes.
One can hardly find anyone in government these days that has operated a successful business, which might explain their wrong-headed reasoning that everyone who owns a company is stuffing profits in their pockets. How else can one explain the never-ending list of regulatory fees and ideological wage requirements on the private sector, as they incorrectly assume they will just write a check and keep less.
News flash: Companies that manage to stay in business for any length of time have been successful in raising their rates to stay ahead of their costs. The result is profits. No profits, no business.
Governments are clearly targeting homeowners. The Communist Manifesto eschews the rights of individuals to own property, and it’s looking like governments of all levels are nipping at their heels. Not surprising, since socialists typically dominate councils and enforce their ideals. By eliminating profit-based incentives to open companies and making it hard to start businesses and expand, the commercial/industrial base either shrinks or fails to grow. Typically, their tax rates are higher than residential; if that sector doesn’t grow and the government decides it still needs more money, they focus on the other major source of taxpayer revenue – homeowners.
Are these tax hikes and increased regulations improving the quality of life for residents? If so, how? Where? Who benefits?
One thing for sure is that public sector unions benefit. Well known for their support of the NDP, these organizations get more members and annual wage increases that are voted on by the very people who they helped get elected to local government. Conflict of interest, anyone? Could you imagine the outcry if a link like that was ever exposed between the government and a private enterprise?
Government’s insatiable appetites for power and tax revenue results in the creation of new laws, which they then claim make it necessary to hire more people to enforce the regulations they’ve just introduced. It’s a never-ending circle.
Added to this, one has to be careful to dissect government proclamations regarding new jobs. The B.C. NDP government released a year-end press release heralding the fact there were 74,000 new jobs in the province in 2023. Just under half of those – 33,900 – 46 percent, were in the public sector. Those jobs are completely tax dependent, and the fact it reveals a stagnant private sector is a major problem moving forward.
The Fraser Institute recently released statistics that showed that “net job growth in the public sector between February 2020 and June 2023 was 11.8 percent in the public sector and just 3.3 percent in the private sector (including self-employment).”
B.C. has the fastest rate of public sector job creation at 22.6 percent, and the slowest rate of private sector job creation at 0.3 percent.
The Fraser Institute also reported that the B.C. government is expected to add $5,315 per person in net debt in its three-year fiscal forecast. That compares to $1,680 during Covid and the recent recession, and following the 2008-09 financial crisis, it was $3,438 each.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation points out that since coming to power eight years ago, the Trudeau government has hired 98,000 more bureaucrats. These are frightening numbers.
Let’s put it bluntly: what is referred to as “the economy” is really, for all intents and purposes, the private sector. Everything comes from that, including all government jobs, as well as generosity towards non-profit groups and organizations.
Governments need to start doing more with less, just like the private sector does. Property tax, carbon tax, you name the tax – they’re all making it increasingly unaffordable for regular B.C. citizens to prosper, and it’s time governments were told to stop being so greedy.
Mark MacDonald is President of Communication Ink Media & Public Relations Ltd.: firstname.lastname@example.org