January 26, 2004
Honourable Gary Collins
Minister of Finance
Since June 2001, our government has been working to implement our New Era vision to revitalize the economy, restore sound fiscal management, and put patients and students first.
Our New Era platform contained 201 specific commitments that our government would undertake on behalf of British Columbians. These included a commitment to "establish service plans that include measurable performance standards and targets for all programs that are annually audited and published, for all taxpayers to see."
On June 25, 2001, I sent you a letter of instruction setting out the key priorities for your Ministry, including a list of the New Era commitments assigned to your Ministry. These commitments were also included in the Government Strategic Plan and Ministry Service Plans that were tabled in the Legislature in February 2002, covering fiscal years 2002/03 through 2004/05.
The Service Plan you are tabling today represents the final year of the first three-year plans. And it shows that we have made significant progress toward honouring our commitments. Specifically, of the 29 New Era commitments that involved your Ministry, the province has now completed or begun work on 28 of these. Accomplishments in your Ministry over the past two-and-a-half years include:
- Since June 2001, introduced 27 tax relief measures resulting in $830 million in net tax relief for individuals and $360 million in net tax relief for British Columbian businesses.
- Passed real balanced budget and ministerial accountability legislation to make balanced budgets mandatory and hold individual ministers, and Cabinet collectively, accountable for financial results.
- Brought in new tax credits and streamlined regulations for the mining sector.
- Introduced targeted tax credits for high-technology business in British Columbia such as credits for film/television, digital animation and new media.
In the coming year, the province will continue work on a number of priorities to honour the commitments that we have made. These are detailed in your Ministry Service Plan, and include:
- Balance the budget beginning in 2004/05.
- Continue to build a competitive tax and regulatory climate that stimulates economic growth.
- Ensure comprehensive, timely and transparent financial and performance planning and reporting.
It is important to note that all of the province's achievements to date, and our priorities for the year ahead, will be accomplished while balancing the budget in 2004/05, and having significantly increased funding for health care and education.
Clearly, we will do more if we can, as new resources are available, to build on the funding priorities detailed in this Service Plan — in a way that is consistent with our balanced budget commitment.
As our measures to revitalize the economy continue to create new jobs, growth and investment, this will allow us to continue strengthening public services for the benefit of British Columbians. Opportunities like the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will showcase British Columbia to the world and generate economic benefits all across our province. Future service plans will further demonstrate those benefits.
I know that you will continue to build on the progress your Ministry has made. Let me conclude by thanking you for your commitment to serving the best interests of all British Columbians.
Honourable Gordon Campbell
|Province of British Columbia
Office of the Premier
|Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt.