VICTORIA, B.C. – The provincial government unveiled its 2023 budget today with a focus on addressing many of the symptoms of unaffordability affecting British Columbians. However, there was a lack of new investment aimed at improving the province’s business climate.
B.C. Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy, who will meet with Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce members tomorrow, said global inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic are contributing to systemic challenges that make life less affordable for British Columbians.
The province is forecasting deficits for the next three years but has chosen to increase spending this year. The $3.6 billion surplus left over from last year needs to be spent by March 31, and will be used for a number of projects currently in the works. Details of that spending will be made available in the coming weeks.
Among the highlights of BC Budget 2023 are $1 billion in new money for mental health and addiction services, new funding to improve food security and the $480 million Future Ready Plan, which will help employees gain the skills needed by employers.
“The Chamber has heard from our members that they need help finding and keeping workers, and they want more done to ensure safe communities for all,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said, noting there are also annual increases to the Carbon Tax, which will add to the cost of doing business. “This budget will help by addressing symptoms of unaffordability through the renter’s tax credit, school food programs and a significant increase to healthcare funding. It’s a start but we would have liked to see BC Budget 2023 give a higher profile to the role business plays in improving the quality of life for all British Columbians. Businesses are the ones who make the investments needed to build resilience and create real solutions to affordability.”
The budget includes $119 million over three years to help cover the cost of prescription contraception, and $87 million to target repeat offenders and individuals who have an outsized responsibility for crime in our communities.
“Minister Conroy promised to invest in policing and mental health and addiction treatment, which are key components to have the safe communities we all need to be our best at home and at work,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about how this money will be used in Greater Victoria.”
Since 1863, The Chamber has served Greater Victoria by working together to build good business and great community through advocacy, networking, professional development and innovative services as changing times require.