Political announcements get encore performance

Government can't get enough good news coverage in the run-up to provincial election

With a provincial election looming on the horizon, everything old is becoming new again. This week alone we’ve heard of an increase to the province’s minimum wage coming in September and a consolidated police dispatch centre here in the Capital Region. Those announcements are likely to be as welcome today as when they were first unveiled back in 2016.

The Saanich News ran a story on the proposed emergency response dispatch centre back in October. However, that story back in October didn’t mention the province would contribute $100,000 to the $13.5 million project, nor did it feature Public Safety Minister Mike Morris speaking on the province’s commitment to safety. Cue the news conference, this time with the provincial government in the forefront.

The province announced back in May 2016 that the minimum wage would rise beyond the Consumer Price Index, going up 40 cents to $10.85 an hour in September 2016, with a similar increase promised for 2017. Well, this week it was deja vu all over again, as the province announced the minimum wage increase set for September 2017. However, the latest increase will be for 50 cents to $11.35 an hour. Pretty good return on a 10-cent investment to buy the provincial government all this good publicity.

The BC Liberal government has gotten so good at the art of the refurbished announcement, they’ve even taken to putting their own spin on proposals originally brought forward by other political parties.

The highlight of this year’s provincial budget is a promise to slice Medical Services Plan premiums in half for 2018. While that decision will likely play well with B.C. voters, the idea is far from new. Both the NDP and Green Party have long sought changes to the regressive system that sees millionaires pay the same premiums as those surviving barely above the poverty line. In fact, a large chunk of the cut to premiums would simply be an elimination of increases the Liberals have implemented in recent years.

“What have you done for me lately?” is a familiar refrain heard around election time. But like so many things in B.C. politics, there’s probably more to it than meets the eye.