Smoke and Mirrors Budget Contains Hidden Billions in Hydro Costs

September 1, 2009

Smart Meters, Waneta Dam Among Major Spending Not Included in Budget: Union

September 1, 2009

Victoria, BC – The Provincial Government has not budgeted for at least two major capital expenditures as part of its ongoing effort to hide the true scale of BC’s Budget deficit, according to the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (MoveUP).

Among the expenditures that are not budgeted for are BC Hydro’s $800 million Smart Metering program, and the planned $825 million acquisition of the Waneta Dam in Trail.

“Smoke and mirror budgets have been a fixture of this government, but to not include over $1.6 billion in spending in the Budget Update takes transparency and truthfulness is at an all time low in British Columbia,” said Gwenne Farrell, Vice President of MoveUP.

BC Hydro’s Smart Metering Program is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2010. The program is legislated, yet there is no reference to it in the Budget Update, despite its inclusion in BC Hydro’s Service Plan.

BC Hydro recently announced it planned to purchase the Waneta Dam from cash-strapped Teck Cominco. Teck Cominco is also one of the largest donors to the BC Liberal Party. However, this expenditure is not accounted for anywhere in the Budget Update.

“The government is clearly in damage control with this bad news budget, and because they obviously know that the economic picture is much worse than they are prepared to admit, they are trying to hide costs and mask the true scale of their financial incompetence,” said Farrell.

“You have to wonder: what else aren’t they telling us and how big is the real deficit?” asked Farrell.

MoveUP represents workers throughout BC’s utilities industry, including BC Hydro, Accenture Business Services, Terasen Gas, Fortis BC, and several other public and private sector employers in BC.