Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)

MLA Shypitka reacts to provinical budget

Kootenay East MLA notes lack of attention to mining and natural resource sector

The provincial budget tabled by the B.C. NDP last week falls short of promising a way out of pandemic-related spending, according to Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka.

Reacting to the provincial budget from Finance Minister Selena Robinson, the Kootenay-based MLA added that plan lacks sufficient weight on the natural resource and tourism sectors, while failing to plan for enough revenue generation necessary to pay for COVID-19 relief.

“It’s not spectacular … (and) because we’re in such a crazy time right now, we need something spectacular,” said Shypitka.

“We need some hope, we need a real good vision, we need a plan for not only protecting ourselves from the pandemic, but also giving us inspiration and hope to have projects to be shovel-ready when we’re out of this and with the vaccines coming, people are looking down that road. They’re looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and this budget doesn’t reflect that.”

READ: BC deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

The budget outlined $8.7 billion in new spending over a three-year fiscal plan. An $8 billion deficit is forecasted, while the plan also projects the debt climbing to $71.6 billion this year.

“We expected to see a deficit. Nobody could ever think there wouldn’t be one, but it’s how the deficit is proposed and how the solutions aren’t there to pay it off anytime soon,” Shypitka said.

The budget includes $4 billion in new spending over three years on health and mental health care, including earmarking $900 million to continue COVID-19 related services, and $7.8 billion for health care-related capital investments.

The budget also touts a $500 million investment in expanding mental health and substance use services in response to both the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the overdose crisis.

On education, the province is adding $1.2 billion for operating funding over the next three years as well as $3.5 billion in capital investments to expand, renovate or replace schools.

Funding for various business supports was included, as well as $100 million for for the tourism industry that has been one of the hardest hit sectors impacted by the pandemic.

Shypitka, the B.C. Liberal Party shadow minister for energy and mines, also criticized the lack of attention on mining and natural resource-related industries, including Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

“The only time they mention mining in the budget is that we need it to get to a low-carbon economy,” Shypitka said. “Well, that’s great little pat on the back, but lets put the money where your mouth is. We’re looking at huge infrastructure projects with electric vehicles, we want to electrify our province so we can get lower greenhouse gas emissions, so we need that mining. We need those metals and minerals to be put in place to enable us to do that.

“If not, we’re importing from other jurisdictions that are less green and less friendly with our safety standards and our human rights standards and it’s going to come at a premium. So why are we not using what we’ve got here?”

Shypitka pointed to “shovel-ready” projects in the Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish and the Tilbury expansion in the Lower Mainland that could begin construction this year and provide LNG to domestic and Asian markets.

“China is a huge importer of natural gas and Canada’s got such a competitive advantage to where our location is,” Shypitka said.

While the budget announced $2 billion in development funding through HousingHub, which will help local governments, non-profits and the private sector to provide rental and home ownership opportunities, Shypitka criticized the pace at which the funding may be made available, pointing to challenges, eligibility issues and delays for businesses in pandemic-related relief efforts.

On childcare, Shypitka said it is an issue that needs to be addressed, but pointed out that the NDP are not pursuing a universal $10-a-day daycare which had previosuly been a campaign commitment in the previous two provinical elections. Instead, the government announced a Universal Child Care Prototype Program, which was expanded in the budget to 3,750 child care spaces.

He also called out another campaign promise — the $400 renter’s rebate — that was not included in the budget.

“It’s a lot of false promises that they failed to address and now they’re trying to rewrite the rhetoric a bit,” Shypitka said.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Kevin Allen of Fernie helped research and untangle the relationship between West Fernie and the City of Fernie, and is now writing a book on West Fernie. (Phil McLachlan / The Free Press)
Local historian writing book on West Fernie

Kevin Allen of Fernie is compiling his research on West Fernie into a book thanks to a grant from the RDEK

The design green-lit by the Sparwood District Council for the Centennial Square revitalization. It retains storefront parking, as desired by the business community in the square. (Image courtesy of District of Sparwood)
New Centennial Square design green-lit by Sparwood

The new design retains some storefront parking in the square

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read