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Investing in a healthy Vernon-Monashee future

MLA column on supports being delivered to communities
Vernon Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu (right) was recently on hand for an announcement of employment services at a Vernon recovery house, with Sheila Malcolmson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, and Turning Points staff. (MLA Facebook photo)

Harwinder Sandhu

Vernon-Monashee MLA

It’s no secret that global inflation and global economic uncertainty is making the cost of living go up.

Rising inflation and global economic uncertainty are making life harder for many of us.

Over the last few weeks, I have talked to a lot of you about the issues that people in our community are dealing with. I know these times are challenging, but Premier David Eby and I have got your back – and we are committed to tackling the cost of living and making life easier for you, your family, and our community.

In B.C., our strong economy left us with a significant surplus this year which means we can make key investments in our public services and our infrastructure to help make life better and more affordable for everyone in our community. And the good news is that this year’s budget builds on these investments. We’re building homes, strengthening public health care, investing in our communities and making sure people can pay their bills.

We’re using some of the extra surplus money to take the pressure off local governments and the costs that they are facing.

With growing populations and aging infrastructure, communities around B.C. have been trying to balance limited budgets, rising costs, and potential municipal tax increases. To help ease this burden, we’re investing nearly $20 million in the local governments in Vernon-Monashee.

READ MORE: More than $20M Vernon-Monashee funds voted against

Vernon alone is getting $9,575,000 to help with costs, whether that is road work and repairs, recreation costs, municipal services, capital projects, or otherwise. This one-time funding will give our local governments the boost they need to keep running the services that you and your family depend on.

In Budget 2023, we are building on many of our previous investments in mental health and addictions care. We are investing $1 billion to enhance services for people facing mental health and addiction challenges. We are building a new model of seamless care to support people through their entire recovery journey and investing in new substance use treatment and recovery beds and facilities. We’re also putting key supports in place for young people in crisis and making room for Indigenous-led treatment, recovery, and aftercare services. The government is committed to facing the toxic drug crisis head on.

There are so many amazing investments in the budget that will help Vernon-Monashee residents, it’s impossible to find the space to list them all. Premier Eby’s new housing plan, called Homes for People, will tackle B.C.’s housing crisis by making it easier and faster to build homes, cracking down on speculation and house flipping, and more. We are also making investments in school food programs, and investing in more subsidized childcare, to put more money back in your pocket.

We’re also increasing the B.C. family benefit and increasing the B.C. Climate Action Tax credit to help take the pressure off everyone’s bills. We’re also introducing a new renters’ tax credit as well.

One of the biggest announcements from Budget 2023 is that we are making prescription contraception free for all British Columbians. I am so proud of this announcement because, as a health-care professional, I know that it is crucially important to ensure that prices are not stopping people from filling their prescriptions. This announcement will help to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in B.C. and to ensure that women and people with uteruses have the freedom and resources necessary to make the right choice for them when it comes to their reproductive health. This program is now in effect, and those with prescriptions will find that their medications are free next time they go and pick up at their local pharmacy.

These are just some of the ways that we are supporting people in this year’s budget. As a mom, a healthcare worker, and member of our community, I know how important it is that we invest in our people and the services that support them. In this year’s budget, we are investing in a healthy future for all of us and making sure that B.C. is ready for whatever the future brings.

READ MORE: Vernon community groups receiving gaming funds


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