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HomeNewsBC BUDGET 2018: Northern MLA says there’s no place for the region...

BC BUDGET 2018: Northern MLA says there’s no place for the region in the NDP’s plan

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad in Prince George | Kyle Balzer, My PG Now

The 2018 BC Budget as delivered by the provincial government is focusing on childcare and the housing crisis.

Finance Minister Carole James has announced a $1 billion investment over the next three years for more child-care spaces for families in need of some extra support.

She says this historic plan for universal healthcare will be spread out.

“For a childcare plan to work, there must be more spaces. that’s why we’re creating 22,000 new license Child Care spaces and we’re also increasing grant funding to encourage the building and maintenance of spaces where they’re needed the most in BC.”

The plan with this investment to create more job opportunities for students wanting to get a degree in early childhood education, but there’s no firm details on where these spaces will be implemented.

For Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, he feels the government is spending too much money, and taxes are going to get higher as a result.

“That includes a new healthcare tax, the transferring of the MSP costs, as well as the increase in corporate taxes coupled with increases in minimum wage. It is going to be very challenging to find ways to do business in this province.”

A budget surplus of $219 million by the end of 2019 is expected for the BC Legislature, and while he believes some of these solutions are nice to see, Rustad is not impressed with the orange party’s intentions.

“It’s increasing at an annual rate of six-and-a-half percent annually or 20% in the time they’ve taken government to the end of this fiscal reporting period. That rate of spending increase is completely unsustainable and puts British Columbia at risk for deficits or further tax increases.”

James also introduced a benefit of $1.6 billion to address and solve the affordable housing situation in three years time, but it’s only going to where it’s needed most.

She says government can not fix the crisis alone.

“These are important investments and these are the right steps in the right direction for charting a path to build 114,000 affordable housing units, but this can only be done by building partnerships, and to find use or to redevelop available land and communities.”

This includes handing out money to rural BC communities, but no specific areas were mentioned in the minister’s speech in Victoria.

Rustad says this will hurt smaller municipal governments and economies across the region, adding the NDP should’ve looked into investing in BC-born fields, such as forestry and wildlife.

As the Forests Critic with the BC Liberals, he says the budget should also be addressing the spruce beetle epidemic.

“It has basically been flatlined with the exception of the wage growth. There is $72 million over three years to help with wildfire preparation and support, but we are going to be going through some challenges in forestry and communities that have that sector for their everyday needs are going to need some support.”

The BC government is also slated to eliminate all MSP premiums by January 1st, 2020, but Rustad says small businesses will be hit the most by this act.

You can click here for a link of the full budget.

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