North Shore Business, Service Groups Welcome B.C. Budget

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By Brent Richter, North Shore News

Sept. 12th, 2017 – The B.C. NDP’s first budget in government is getting mostly positive reviews from North Shore housing, social services and business advocates.

Finance Minister Carol James delivered the budget in the legislature on Monday, bringing with it $51.9 billion in spending. Among the bigger ticket items: $208 million over four years to build 1,700 new units of affordable rental housing, a 50 per cent reduction in MSP premiums, increases in welfare and disability payments and $172 million to build 2,000 units of modular housing for the homeless.

Gabrielle Loren, president of the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, estimated about 99 per cent of chamber members will benefit from the small business tax cut. The increase in corporate rates will likely affect some West Vancouver-based developers and a handful of really large businesses like Park Royal or Cypress Mountain.

Liz Barnett, executive director of the North Shore Disability Resource Centre Association, welcomed the $100 increase in payments to persons with disabilities as well as the creation of a ministry for social development and poverty reduction. “I think that really signals they’re willing to look at some very significant social issues that people with disabilities are overrepresented in,” she said.

In practical terms, the $100 per month increase in disability payments can ease a great deal of stress, Barnett added.

“People are choosing to cut back on their meds. … I’m hoping that people will be able to feel they can eat food – that they don’t have to choose between hydro and groceries. That really is what’s happening. It’s not an inflated claim. We deal with this every day.”

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