Here's what people are saying in reaction to the British Columbia budget

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government released a budget Tuesday that promises billions in new spending on health, housing and cost-of-living supports, as well as a return to deficits.

Here’s what people are saying about the plan:

“Some believe we should respond to uncertainty by pulling back. By making cuts that reduce services. Or by making people pay out of pocket for tolls and private health care. That’s not what British Columbians want.” — B.C. Finance Minister Katrine Conroy.

“This budget supports the expansion of health workforce training, an additional 9.25 million hours in staffing (and) significant wage increases … These initiatives are critical to addressing workload and burnout.” — Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Meena Brisard.

“It does little to support our small, medium and large businesses with the cost of doing business.” — B.C. Chamber of Commerce president Fiona Famulak.

“It’s obviously a step in the right direction. This is trying to make up for a long, long time of neglect since 2007 with the shelter rate increase. Even with the increase, it’s still nowhere near close to market rates.” — Together Against Poverty Society executive director Douglas King.

“We’re very happy that health continues to be a priority … However, we’re disappointed that the same attention hasn’t been given to public education.” — BC Teachers’ Federation president Clint Johnston.

“This investment (of $37.5 billion in capital spending over three years) will help deliver the infrastructure British Columbians are counting on.” — BC Building Trades executive director Brynn Bourke.

“The government made some critical investments for some of B.C.’s most vulnerable people who need help.” — CUPE BC president Karen Ranalletta.

"There's obviously still more work to be done when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and access in general, but our hope is that British Columbia will become a beacon of hope for reproductive justice across Canada and North America." — Teale Phelps Bondaroff, chair of the AccessBC campaign for free prescription contraception, which will take effect in B.C. starting April 1.

"If Premier David Eby and the B.C. NDP are serious about keeping their promises to safeguard at-risk old-growth forests and double the amount of protected areas in the province in the next seven years, they need to spend money to make it happen." — Wilderness Committee national campaign director Torrance Coste, saying Budget 2023 does not deliver the funding that would be required.

"We know from experience that effectively stewarding aquatic habitats and the key relationships that go along with that work requires dependable long-term funding." — B.C. operations manager for Ducks Unlimited Canada, Sarah Nathan, applauding $100 million for the province's Watershed Security Fund.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

The Canadian Press