Waters: B.C. government giving back what it took away, all under the guise of funding

What one hand of government takes away, the other gives back. And the spin doctors have a field day.

Hot on the heels of the province announcing it is giving the Central Okanagan school district back nearly $968,000 that it took in “administrative savings,” last year, the City of Kelowna has announced it is applying for a provincial grant equal to the amount it paid in carbon taxes to Victoria.

A concerning pattern appears to be developing here.

The province takes money, gives it back and then claims it is generously funding both school districts and municipalities.

On the street, such a move would be called a shell game.

Sure, provincial economies—and municipal and federal ones for that matter— work on the premise of the public paying taxes and municipalities and school districts getting funded from the money raised from its taxepayers. But this is different.

In the case of the school district money, it was money the districts already had and had to pay to the province like some sort of extortion scheme.

Between that and inadequate funding to meet the demand of a growing school district, SD23 was left a few million short. It then had to make cuts to balance its budget because, because it’s OK for the province to run a deficit, but Victoria won’t let school districts or municipalities do the same.

Then, in a show of largesse that warented its own news release from the government touting its generosity, Victoria announced it was giving a province-wide total of $25 million back to B.C. school districts to help pay for “frontline services for students.”

“Our government is committed to ensuring that maximum education dollars go into services for students,” said Education Minister Mike Bernier in the news release.

And it even included a public thank-you from the head of the B.C. School Trustees Association. If Teresa Rezanoff actually uttered the words, I’l bet they were said through gritted teeth.

What one hand of the government taketh away, the other gives back. And the spin doctors use that giving back for  political gain.

Meanwhile, the city had to pay $228,466 in carbon taxes and now, if its measures to reduce greenhouse gases are deemed good enough, could get that money back.

And you can be sure there will be a government news release touting that act of  largesse as well.

Call me a cynic but if you demand a kid’s lunch money, and then give it back later, telling the kid to be thankful you’re helping him out by giving him money, you shouldn’t be able to claim Brownie points for largesse.

It’s not new money. It’s just recycled money.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.