Liberal Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman said there’s not a lot to celebrate when it comes to the recently announced B.C. budget for 2021.
“Money going towards Indigenous relations and for mental health are the positives,” he said, but lacked enthusiasm for the rest of the NDP’s financial plan.
Banman took issue with a number of underfunded sectors including affordable housing and renters, which he said was a big issue for the Fraser Valley.
“As far as infrastructure goes, there’s not much to cheer about,” he added. “You can stimulate the economy by focusing on infrastructure, but the expansion of Highway 1, for example, stops 500 metres shy of 264th street.”
Banman said 264th is the fifth most likely merging point in the Lower Mainland where motorists could have an accident.
“[The highway] should be expanded all the way to Chilliwack,” he said, explaining wider and safer roads would help the economy because of increased transportation options.
He also winced at the shrunken budget for the minister of jobs, saying that support for local businesses should be, by far, the biggest priority for anyone today.
“I look up and down Aldergrove and see businesses are either shrinking or shutting down,” Banman explained. “Tourism got some funding, but far from what is actually needed. I’m worried about them. I’m not anti-big box or chain store, but small businesses are B.C.’s biggest employer with well over 50 per cent. Why not put the money there?”
Banman pointed to just about every budget announcement, noting that the new Surrey hospital hadn’t been rewarded adequate funding, mining operations are also taking a hit, and $10 dollar a day daycare is a start for child care, but far from enough.
The MLA called the $9.7 billion deficit for 2021, which will carry over into the next few years, “very concerning.”
“Future generations are going to be left with the tab to pay it off,” he said. “The NDP need to take responsibility. Their spending has ballooned, but there’s not much benefit. Taxpayer money needs to be spent wisely, not going towards helping out friends.”
As far as any action goes, as a Liberal, Banman said the opposition’s job is to hold the government accountable and put pressure on them to do the right thing.
“Where is planning for our future and for future generations? And remember the $400 renter rebate. Where’d that go?” he asked. “I want to find out.”
Banman said the budget B.C. was hoping for is not there.
“If you want to have an outcome, you need a plan. The NDP are good at promises, but not so much on the delivery,” Banman said.
He said the least he can do amid a tough pandemic economy is to encourage Aldergrove residents to buy local.
Banman was elected in October of 2020, taking the place of independent Daryl Pleccas.
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