B.C. Ranks Second Last

Two reports released this week show that the Campbell Liberal government cares more about their political fortunes than they people they're supposed to serve, B.C. NDP leader Carole James says.

The B.C. Progress Board report, which came down Tuesday, showed British Columbia is falling behind the rest of Canada on issues like poverty, crime and other social conditions. This despite a public accounts report Wednesday that showed the province's budget surplus had ballooned to $4.1 billion.

"We have a crisis in homelessness in this province, yet the Finance Minister thinks it's more important to have a big surplus than to actually use the resources to help people," said James.

"More and more British Columbians are falling behind, but the Campbell government talks about budget surpluses as if the bottom line is the only thing that matters."

"The surpluses are a result of high commodity prices and continuing low interest rates. Those conditions won't last forever. We should be doing more now to bridge the divide in our society, because when commodity prices drop again, the problem will get even worse."

The Progress Board report showed that British Columbia ranks ninth among 10 Canadian provinces for social indicators. This province is second worst in the number of people living below the Low Income Cutoff.

The B.C. Progress Report's 2007 Interim Report compares B.C.'s social condition to other provinces based on five categories: low-income cut off, personal property crime, income assistance levels, low birth weight, and long-term unemployment. B.C.'s overall ranking was ninth in Canada, with the second worst poverty and crime rate in the country.

When questioned about the report Wednesday, Finance Minister Carole Taylor admitted she had not read it.

"It's really shameful that the Campbell government has created the conditions in which our social condition is among the worst in Canada," James said.

"What makes it worse is the Finance Minister refuses to read anything that contradicts her cheery rhetoric. This government created the problems and they continue to refuse to make any effort to help the people they've hurt."

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