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BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Summer, 2021

 

Budget helps people immediately,
supports post-pandemic recovery

In the first full budget since the election, B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson increased financial support for the most vulnerable and set aside almost $6 billion in new funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Being in the midst of a worldwide pandemic “continues to make it rather difficult to predict how things will develop in the future,” said Robinson.

“We know a recovery won’t happen overnight, but by focusing on the things that matter most to people, we can ensure there are better days ahead for everyone,” she said.

The budget provides nearly $2.5 billion in ongoing support for small and medium size businesses and health care. A further $3.25 billion is set aside to support hard-hit sectors if required in response to future case counts.

“Budget 2021 addresses immediate challenges and builds the foundation for a strong recovery with new investments in health and mental health services, business supports, affordable housing and child care, keeping life affordable for families, and record levels of job-creating community infrastructure,” said Robinson.

Better health care

• $900 million in new funding for testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and the vaccine rollout.

• Faster access to surgeries, and shorter wait times for diagnostic imaging.

• The largest investment in mental health and addiction services in B.C. history.

• Thousands of new staff in longterm care facilities and improved home care.

• More new urgent and primary care centres, as well as continued construction of new hospitals.

Support for people

• For the first time since it was introduced more than 30 years ago, the seniors’ supplement is increased by $50 a month to $99.30, helping 80,000 low income seniors.

• Income and disability assistance rates were increased by $175 a month.

• Funding to double the number of $10 a day child care spaces.

• Creating over 85,000 jobs and strengthening communities with record investments in infrastructure – an increase of $3.5 billion.

• $2 billion in development financing to build 9,000 homes for middle-income families.

• An additional $506 million in CleanBC investments to reduce emissions, expand the economy and create careers.

BC Fed reaction

The B.C. Federation of Labour said the budget will drive job growth with significant spending on health and infrastructure.

The BCFED also welcomed the “significant resources” being allocated for public services, mental health, child care and free public transit for children under 12.

 

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