BURNABY – B.C Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy’s first provincial budget makes strategic investments to support communities, and will help the province’s most vulnerable build better lives for themselves and their families,” CUPE BC president Karen Ranalletta said today.
“Budget 2023 provides critical funding on the key issues impacting British Columbians,” said Ranalletta, who participated in the budget lock-up in Victoria. “From funding to expand school lunch programs, to long overdue support for people on income and disability assistance, and key measures to address homelessness, healthcare funding, and mental health and addictions, there are substantial investments to support working people and their families.”
“I was pleased to see the increased funding for housing, which remains a huge challenge for our members, as it is for low- and middle-income earners in communities across the province. I commend this government for being the first jurisdiction in Canada to make prescription contraception free to all residents, an important step to providing people autonomy over their sexual and reproductive health.”
Ranalletta expresses disappointment that the budget was not stronger on funding to continue B.C.’s work to meet childcare demand across the province. CUPE BC has proposed a system for school-based childcare that could create thousands of new spaces using existing staff of the public education system, and without requiring new space construction.
“Amid all the new investment in critical services, I was surprised that the budget was relatively silent on continued expansion of childcare spaces, and the provision of a much-needed public option. This is a missed opportunity to provide the affordable, high-quality school-aged care people need, today.”
Accompanying the Budget 2023 announcement was a restatement of estimates for the 2022 fiscal year, including $2.7 billion in new spending on one-time support for public services.
“The highlight of today’s budget announcement was actually the 2022 funding for libraries, local governments, Next Generation 9-1-1 readiness, rural and remote cellular connectivity, infrastructure, and First Nations agreements—all issues raised by CUPE members as priorities in the Budget 2023 consultation process,” said Ranalletta.