B.C. Ministers tout modest funding bump

High profile visit a sign B.C. Liberals to target Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows ridings in next election: NDP MLA Sather

B.C. Health Minister Mike de Jong

B.C. Health Minister Mike de Jong

The Liberal Party caucus was out in force Tuesday afternoon at Ridge Meadows Hospital as the provincial government announced a bump in funding to a grant program designed to help seniors.

Health minister Mike de Jong was joined by Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux, Labour Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, as well as Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy at the Baillie House residential care facility to announce $750,000 in additional funding to Age-Friendly B.C.

The program provides grants of up to $20,000 to local governments to help fund projects aimed at helping communities become more accessible to seniors.

De Jong characterized the funding boost as “modest,” but noted that simple solutions can often have a profound effect.

“The difference between being able to get out of your home and into the community can be as simple as a bus stop,” said de Jong. “That’s not something that costs millions, but it can be the difference between someone getting out or not.”

The District of Maple Ridge received a $20,000 grant to fund the Ridge Meadows Volunteer Management Program.

“These age-friendly grants will allow our local seniors to stay healthy and active in our community. It will help keep them independent and raise their quality of life,” said Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton.

Outgoing Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows NDP MLA Michael Sather, who won’t be running for re-election, said the strong showing of high-ranking Liberals at such a minor funding announcement was political, and shows how much the Liberal government will be focussing their efforts on the two local ridings during the next election.

“It was an unusually large contingent, but given there could be an election soon, perhaps not,” said Sather. “These are two very strategic swing ridings, and certainly the Liberals are placing a high importance on my and Marc Dalton’s seats.

“I guess I can look forward to more visits from my colleagues across the floor in the coming months.”

Sather noted Liberal ministers’ visit comes just a week after premier Christy Clark was in town to visit the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society on occasion of its 40th anniversary.

“I don’t think they’ll call an election this Spring, but Christy is unpredictable, so you never know,” he said.