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Underfunded transit systems, combatting ‘sky-high’ rent missing in federal budget

Dental program will benefit many lower-income British Columbians but more help is needed

Reactions to the federal budget continue to come in from different quarters of the political spectrum of the province.

Iglika Ivanova, senior economist and public interest researcher at Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said the budget includes some welcomed, and even significant, steps to help British Columbians deal with cost-of-living. But real relief for many residents will only come when governments get serious about addressing what she called “sky-high rents.”

Ivanova said the Trudeau government’s one-time doubling of the GST tax credit — called the “grocery rebate” in this budget — is a welcome measure for the lowest-income British Columbians.

The federal budget also includes funding for a dental plan, which Ivanova called “very significant” because it will represent a major expansion of medicare in Canada, once implemented.

“However, the dental plan will be implemented in stages and won’t start until 2023-24, so for now it’s only low-income parents with children under 12 that qualify for reimbursement through the Canada Dental Benefit.”

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Soaring housing costs, specifically rents, as well as high food prices, are the key drivers of the current cost-of-living crisis, Ivanova said.

“This is particularly true for B.C., which has some of the highest rents in the country but not the highest salaries to match.”

BC Chamber of Commerce CEO Fiona Famulak said her organization welcomes the federal government’s sizable investment in green energy and continued support for the development of critical minerals. Additional plans to streamline regulations are important for the provincial resource sector, she added.

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy expressed concern about the lack of support for housing in the face of rising immigration and infrastructure.

While Ivanova pointed to some funding for the Prince Rupert Port Authority, she feels government could have done more.

“There doesn’t seem to be any new money for municipal infrastructure investment in this budget or for underfunded transit systems,” she said, adding that Ottawa plans to review infrastructure spending later this year.

“This is another example of the government kicking the can down the road on an issue they know needs to be addressed.”


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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