Carole James talks with politicians and other community members Friday at the Coast Bastion Hotel. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

B.C.’s finance minister holds round table in Nanaimo to talk about the budget

Carole James met with politicians and other community members Friday at the Coast Bastion Hotel

B.C.’s finance minister was in Nanaimo this week to collect feedback on the recently released provincial budget.

Carole James hosted a round table discussion Friday afternoon at the Coast Bastion Hotel with politicians and other community members to talk about the budget that was released in February and to find out what aspects Nanaimo liked and didn’t like.

Some of those present included Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson, City of Nanaimo Coun. Jerry Hong, Snuneymuxw councillor Douglas White III, VIU president Ralph Nilson and Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO Kim Smythe. Labour and non-profits were also represented.

“Today was a reminder again: the communities are already working together…” James said. “Groups are already connected with each other. Government needs to catch up with communities. We need to model what the communities are modelling. They’re working across sectors.”

James said the NDP government sought to present a budget that was not only balanced fiscally, but balanced in its approach. She talked about two priorities in the budget, housing affordability and child care, as well as a range of other spending.

Most of the reaction in the room was positive, with praise for the childcare measures including child care benefits, a child care fee reduction program, new child care spaces and support for early childhood educators. James said getting women back into the workforce will impact GDP and Nilson said child care is important in helping to make post-secondary education accessible.

Nilson and Malcolmson liked that the B.C. government seemed to be taking on some provincial responsibility in regards to truth and reconciliation and White said co-operation with First Nations, including discussions about revenue sharing, will be important in moving forward on resource development.

Hong asked about MSP, expressing concern, as a small business owner, about the threshold at which a new payroll tax will kick in. He also wondered how MSP changes would impact municipalities; James replied that the province tried to create a level playing field for the public sector and the private sector.

Spending to address the overdose crisis didn’t come up at the round-table, but James was asked about it afterward and mentioned a few measures, including provision of naloxone kits and related training, support for supervised consumption sites, and the recently announced community action teams. She said education is a focus considering so many of the overdose deaths come when people use alone.

“It’s not people, as people may imagine, out on the streets. These are individuals who are dying in their own homes and haven’t shared, because of stigma and everything else, the issue of their drug challenges,” James said.

She said she anticipates federal dollars to help with the issue, and said there is an expert team working at the provincial level “providing the expertise and the scientific direction around where we should head and where we can have the biggest impact on saving lives, prevention and education.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Bear cubs try to take Nanaimo woman’s Christmas cookies

Incident happened in the early-morning hours today, Dec. 18, in Chase River

Santa’s helicopter hospital hop brightens day for sick children in Nanaimo

Santa visits by B.C. Air Ambulance to bring smiles to young patients and hospital staff at NRGH

Team Slovakia takes to the ice in Nanaimo ahead of World Juniors

Slovaks to play pre-tournament game against the Czech Republic on Dec. 19 at Frank Crane Arena

Nanaimo mayor and council salaries going up

Pay increase intended to offset loss of tax exemption

Free breakfast and dinner available for less fortunate on Christmas Day

7-10 Club Society hosting annual Dec. 25 meals including dinner at Generations Church

Sea Kings’ final flight holds special meaning for Nanaimo family

Dozens of people turn out with family of pilot to wave farewell to Sea King helicopters

School kids supporting Coins for Kids

Pleasant Valley Elementary making change for charity

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

Most Read