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Vernon Jubilee Hospital funding moves ahead
Public lobbying may have paid off at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
Health Minister Michael de Jong will be in the community in two or three weeks.
“We will be making some announcements. It has something to do with the hospital tower,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, Tuesday.
“The minister wouldn’t be coming to town to make a negative announcement.”
Foster, civic leaders, health care workers and residents have been demanding additional acute care beds at VJH to address cancelled surgeries and patients being kept in hallways.
Foster doesn’t know exactly when de Jong will be in Vernon or if the announcement will lead to both shelled-in floors in the Polson tower being completed or just one.
“We’re moving forward and we had to wait for the (provincial) budget,” said Foster.
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, who was in Vernon Tuesday, wouldn’t say if there is money specifically in the province’s financial plan for VJH.
“That’s for the minister of health to decide but there is a lot of money in the Ministry of Health budget,” said Falcon.
During his local stop, Falcon spoke at a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Village Green Hotel.
“The landscape is littered with governments around the world that have failed to show proper leadership. B.C. will not go down that path,” he said of overcoming economic uncertainty.
In order to respond to global conditions, Falcon says B.C.’s 2012 budget calls for expenditure growth of two per cent and revenue growth of 2.9 per cent.
The small business corporate tax rate will be maintained at 2.5 per cent.
There is also a provisional one per cent addition to the province’s general corporate income tax rate in 2014/15.
“If we perform only worse than our numbers, do we trigger that. It’s about 75 per cent unlikely,” said Falcon of the proposed one per cent hike.
According to Falcon, it’s critical that B.C. balance its budget so it can retain a high credit rating and borrow funds at a preferred rate.
“The savings are in the tens of millions of dollars a year.”
Falcon also believes the budget improves B.C.’s competitiveness in the global market, including diversifying trade.
“Our future as a country lies in Asia,” he said.
The small business venture capital tax is also being expanded while the provincial jet fuel tax is being eliminated on international flights.
The budget also includes a grant for new second and recreational homes.
“This is important for places like Silver Star where there is a vacation home market,” said Falcon.
“A $400,000 home will get a $20,000 reduction in cost (as of April 1).”