Kootenay East MLA reacts to B.C. budget

Tom Shypitka has mixed reaction to plan put forward by the provincial government

Local reaction to the 2019 B.C. budget is mixed, as local representatives see both positive and negative aspects to Tuesday’s financial plan released by Finance Minister Carole James.

The budget document includes an updated forcast of a $374 million surplus, and contains a number of spending initiatives focused on making life more affordable, delivering more services for families and investing in the economy, according to Minister James.

Specific items include a B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit tax credit, which is projected to return $400 million to B.C. families, starting in 2020, a 900 million investment into Clean BC, a plan to meet climate targets, and a $20 billion investment over the next three years into infrastructure projects.

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of B.C. Hydro, ICBC

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling revenue

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance rates still leaves many below poverty line

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka noted the budget contained initiatives and programs that were worthy of praise, but also ignored some rural priorities.

“It just seemed like a lot of really good promises, lot of optimism and a lot of giveaways — some of these giveaways aren’t going to be happening until the fall of 2020 — and it just seemed to me it was some political posturing for a snap election,” Shypitka said.

Shypitka positively singled out interest-free loans for post-secondary students, an $85 million investment to support foster and adoptive parents, and a $3 billion revenue sharing commitment over 25 years with B.C. First Nations.

However, he expressed disappointment in a lack of funding for wildlife management issues and noted there were sparse details on supporting industry.

“Industry’s nervous, there’s lots of taxation, we’re putting us further and further behind on a competitive scale with the rest of the globe and this budget has done nothing to help us in that regard,” Shypitka said.

Given that the province has had the worst two wildfire seasons on record, the budget contains $111 million to combat and mitigate those risks.

Is it enough?

No, says Shypitka, but it’s a start.

“I give credit where credit is due,” he said. “They’ve recognized that wildfire mitigation is a big, huge deal and it is; we’ve seen two of the worst forest fires over the last two years, costing us over $1 billion.”

Shypitka lamented the loss of the revenue-neutral aspect of the former BC Liberal government’s carbon tax, which was returned to the pockets of B.C. taxpayers. Now, he says the government is spending $900 million on CleanBC, while the carbon tax is set to bring in revenues of $1.7 billion next fiscal year, with more to come as the tax increases over the next three years.

He also questioned the appeal of reducing tolls and offering rebates for electric vehicles in the context of the East Kootenay and other rural parts of the province.

“We want to transition to a low-carbon economy, there’s no doubt about it,” he said, “but how many people are going to be taking the offer up in rural B.C. when you need three-quarter ton trucks and work vehicles to get to and from to work and do heavy industrial work, as opposed to somebody in the Lower Mainland who can get around in their Leaf or their Tesla?”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Fernie women step in to save autism program

Branch Out Learning and Behaviour Therapy to replace EK Behaviour Intervention Program in June

Reader survey offers Free Press readers $5000 cash prize

The Free Press is offering readers the chance to win $5000 cash… Continue reading

SD5 drafts business case for Fernie school expansion

Ecole Isabella Dicken Elementary School is currently 30 per cent over capacity

District of Elkford celebrates grand opening of new municipal office

Submitted District of Elkford The District of Elkford has officially begun serving… Continue reading

GALLERY: Fernie hosts mine rescue competition

Fording River, Line Creek mine rescue teams off to provincials after placing first and second

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Fernie barbecue chef challenge this weekend

May 26 cook off to showcase local talent and produce, while raising funds for Fernie Rotoary

Community spirit saves Sparwood’s Coal Miner Days

Volunteers still needed to help run event, which will be held from June 3-9 at various locations

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

Most Read