Local MLA concerned about provincial budget

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy talks about how the budget could affect Rossland.

Last week, the province released it’s budget and according to Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy, it has a lot of faults. How will the budget affect Rossland? Conroy explains.

For one thing, there was a moratorium on selling school buildings.

“(The government’s) given the go ahead for filling your boots selling surplus buildings and that sends a bit of a message,” Conroy said.

“Especially for small communities like Rossland.”

She is also concerned with healthcare. “There is a slight increase, but it’s not even enough to cover the cost of living, to pay for heat and light and things like that,” she said.

The new budget also ignores the B.C. Ombudsmen report on senior health. Conroy said that instead there was the announcement of a $1,000 credit for seniors to renovate their house and make it more accessible, but they have to spend $10,000 first.

“I’ve talked to a lot of seniors and they’re in the process of downsizing, not putting big renovations into their home,” she said noting that even putting in a ramp wouldn’t cost that much. “I think it would be a pretty fancy ramp for $10,000.”

There is also an increase to Medical Service Premiums.

“So there’s another increase to that and we have another year of the HST,” she said. “They haven’t done anything to get rid of that. They said it won’t be gone until this time next year.

“So right before the election they’re going to get rid of the HST. You have to wonder, we keep hearing about the balanced budgets and what they’re going to do and it just seems that they really are misleading the public.”

She cites the last election when the B.C. Liberals said there would be a $495 million deficit.

“They said that’s all it was going to be, but we know now that it was almost $3 billion,” she added.

Post secondary education was also among her concerns.

“We have an amazing facility at Selkirk College and they’re struggling,” she said. “They already said that they are very concerned with this year’s budget and there is no new money in the budget to deal with the rising costs, the issues with post-secondary education.”

She said there will be a need for skilled tradespersons, but the government is not addressing the need. Because of this, she thinks young people going into the trades will head to Alberta, where there is much more support.

 

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