While election promises have been left by the wayside, education and housing will see increases, as new taxes on business and top income earners were highline points falling out of the BC Government’s Budget 2017 update.
Minster of Finance Carole James said that prudent economic decisions were built into the budget work being done thus far.
“We expect BC to lead, but we are also cautious. Prudence is built into this budget, she said noting consumer spending continues to be source of strength and we expect 4 percent growth in 2018 in BC retail sales.
"Housing starts remain high and strong, the highest level in a decade. Compared to other provinces, our trade diversity is diverse. With exports heading to US, Japan, China, other Asia locations and around the world."
$499 million has been earmarked to add 1,700 affordable housing units in BC, ad more than 2,000 modular homes for the homeless.
“These would include 24/7 staff and support services,” said James, noting $681 million increase for the K to 12 system.
“We feel this is critical. We are committing to fully funding one of the larger budget changes since February,” she said. Another $322 million has been dedicated to a fentanyl response plan and $25 million to establish a Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction.
James said on many fronts, the Greens and NDP were close in policy.
“We share common values with the Greens - the difference is sometimes the path we take on how to get there.”
A $400 renters rebate and $10 a day daycare are still commitments, said James on Friday.
“It is time to carve a path our to begin investing in the province and the people.
The theme of a new Mental Health Ministry that can work with other ministries, health, education, child and families, for example, is great idea. It is about access. Right now there is just not enough services to go around,” said Bev Gutray, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association BC division, after the Budget update was released.
“We will be moving forward and earlier prevention and intervention creation. A public system with a focus of when someone asks for help, get it to him or her fast."
South Peace MLA Bernier said the Budget was as predicted.
“Most of the announcements are re-announcements.”
While questioned about a lack of attention to northern BC, Premier John Horgan said softwood lumber and wildfire suppression and prevention funding were in the books. Bernier added a third to the list.
“I didn’t see anything concrete for rural BC – except a tax increase."