On Tuesday (Feb. 28th), the provincial government released its 2023 budget.
Included in the budget was $1 billion going to municipalities across the province, increased funding into the health care system to bring in more doctors and nurses, and a focus on increased housing.
Stikine NDP MLA Nathan Cullen said with the billion dollars going across the province, a formula is in place to determine how much every municipality is getting.
“When you break that down by community, it’s a substantial amount of money… we have a formula, and it’s intentional that small and rural communities actually get a significant amount more per person than our bigger cities because we know the bigger cities have a lot more options in terms of raising money for their services.”
He added the province is investing $100 million in local policing in small and rural communities.
With the mill closures in communities across the north, including the temporary one in Houston, Cullen said, “[The provincial government] stood up north of $150 million for value-added manufacturing because we know that with some of the changes in the amount of timber supply from fires and beetle kill and more conservation measures that we need to get more out of our forests than we have in the past.”
In recent years, the province has been dealing with a healthcare staff shortage, which he said the budget increases funding in the industry.
“I’ve talked with Northern Health about Smithers in particular, and there are prospects of new doctors coming into our system, which is really good.”
Cullen said clinics are opening for people without a family doctor in Smithers, adding that the healthcare shortage has worsened for decades.
“We have been losing family doctors steadily in BC over the last 30 years. There’s been a bunch of programs that have tried and failed under previous administrations.”
He added the historic investments into healthcare are because the declining curve needs reversing so those without a family doctor can get one.
“If you look across every major bit of funding… we have disproportionately advantaged smaller rural communities, especially ones in the north. We’ve signed an agreement with the municipalities on a resource benefit-sharing alliance to say the province recognizes that a great deal of wealth and resources comes out of northern BC.”
He added that the province had invested in more spaces for $10-a-day child care over the past few years, leading to 75 percent of people entering the workforce being women.
You can read more about Budget 2023 here.