Finance Minister Carole James delivers budget Monday. (News Files)

B.C.’s budget update has its fans and foes

Nurses like the new spending, business more cautious

Some like what the new NDP government announced during its budget update Monday and some have issues with it, according to the usual post-budget flurry of e-mails.

For Inclusion BC and Disability Alliance BC, the extra $200 a month earnings exemption for people with disabilities (amount that can be earned in a job before being clawed back in benefits) means that B.C. has the highest earnings exemption in Canada.

There’s also another $100 a month for people on disability income while the social development ministry will get another $16 million this year to address caseloads.

“These initiatives (are) a very welcome message for people who have been without hope for far too long,” said Inclusion BC’s Faith Bodnar.

The B.C. Nurses’ Union says the government has taken “a step in the right direction” by addressing the social causes of health and wellness.

“Taking steps like raising welfare and disability rates, as well as minimum wage rates will only mean a healthier BC as a result,” said BCNU treasurer Sharon Sponton. “We are also happy to hear of the investment in 1,700 more affordable rental units and an additional $291 million for new modular units for the homeless. We know that socioeconomic factors, like poverty, income, housing and social status determine health to a great extent.”

The nurses also like that $322 million over three years will address the opioid crisis, plus the $3 billion for updating health facilities.

The Business Council of B.C. though says in a release that it appreciated the steps taken to address cost of living in the province, but the council is concerned about added costs for employers who pay the wages. It also noted that the yearly forecast budget surpluses are smaller than left by the Liberals in 2016-17. It said the government has to be careful about “hardwiring” new spending increases into its budget.

There is no news release about the budget on the BC Liberals website.

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