Today’s provincial budget means working people will get some much-needed help to deal with rising costs, and continues to make investments in the public services British Columbians rely on, the BCFED said today.
“Finance Minister Conroy’s budget makes it clear this government continues to put people first: reducing costs for families, making significant investments in mental health services, and building needed housing and infrastructure,” said BCFED President Sussanne Skidmore.
“The investments the David Eby government is making to expand the services we all rely on are critical to the health of workers, their families and communities. These continued investments are undoing years of damage done by the BC Liberals – and they're finally turning the tide to ensure our public services are there when British Columbians need them,” she added. “And they underline why it’s so important we never go back to the days of deep cuts and neglect.”
Skidmore highlighted several key measures in the budget:
Free prescription birth control: “This bold, important step will make a big difference. Removing financial barriers to prescription contraception is a victory for everyone who believes in gender equity and reproductive health.”
Increased funding for the Employment Standards Branch: “This $12-million funding increase represent a critical victory for some of our most vulnerable workers in BC. It’s far from the largest item in the budget, but it’ll have a big impact and help ensure all workers can exercise their rights when an employer steals from them or treats them unfairly. And it lays the foundation for a Branch with a more active enforcement mandate — one that works pro-actively to educate workers and employers alike to ensure abuses don’t happen in the first place.”
Housing: “Working people need to be able to afford to live in the places where they work. We are glad to see the budget continuing to expand on the largest housing investments in BC history to build the housing people need where they need it.”
Mental health services and the toxic drug crisis: “The past few years have been profoundly stressful for many workers. With demand spiraling, the budget's new $876-million investment in mental health services couldn’t be more timely.
“The toxic drug crisis disproportionately impacts workers, and we applaud the significant measures announced including investments in prevention and early intervention strategies for youth, safer substance use and more treatment beds.”
Improvements to income and disability assistance: “Those receiving income and disability assistance will finally see an increase to the shelter rate and supplements to address other rising costs. No one in BC should be left behind, and this is an important part of the ongoing work on BC’s poverty reduction strategy.”
Skidmore added that BC’s unions would be keeping a close eye on several key priorities over the coming year, including pay transparency legislation, the upcoming Future Ready Plan and foreign credential recognition strategy, steps to address precarious work and the continued expansion of affordable childcare.