Despite cutting cheques adding up to a multi-billion-dollar deficit, British Columbia’s provincial government is facing disappointment and criticism from those feeling left out of the budget.
Seniors, business groups, teachers and public transit advocates are speaking out about feeling overlooked in David Eby’s first budget as premier.
While describing themselves as proud of a budget adding billions more to health-care spending – including a billion dollars towards human resources – the Health Employees’ Union pointed out seniors are left in the cold.
“What we’re disappointed with is that there’s no funding for long-term care,” said Meena Brisard, the union’s secretary-business manager.
“In 2020, the NDP government made a commitment that they would fix seniors’ care and we don’t see that money in this budget.”
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade handed the government a C- grade for a budget it said addresses social gaps and pours $480 million into skills training, but fails on tax competitiveness, fiscal prudence, and economic vision.
“Business was missing from this budget and there’s a lack of an economic strategy to attract investment, to increase our competitiveness and our innovation capacity,” said GVBOT CEO Bridgette Anderson.
“There’s rising costs for businesses and our members were hoping to hear and see some relief from those costs, but we saw a massive increase in the carbon tax and no relief, for example, on the employer health tax.”
A status quo budget when it comes to public transit was a particular point of frustration for the leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“It’s astonishing how little this government is investing in public transportation outside of the Lower Mainland and Victoria,” leader Sonia Furstenau told reporters at the legislature.
“If you live anywhere in the rest of British Columbia, you basically have no access to public transit as a way to get around in your communities or between your communities.”
The B.C. chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees was largely enthusiastic about measures from free birth control to school lunch programs, but saw another gap.
“Amid all the new investment in critical services, I was surprised that the budget was relatively silent on continued expansion of child-care spaces, and the provision of a much-needed public option,” said president Karen Ranalletta in a press release.
The province’s teachers are also frustrated that education was barely mentioned in the 170-page document.
“We’re pleased to see investments to recruit new doctors and nurses. However, we’re disappointed that the same attention hasn’t been given to public education,” said BC Teachers Federation president Clint Johnston in an email statement.
“Teachers are making magic in classrooms every day, but behind the scenes they are burning out.”
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