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Nelson-Creston MLA — Many good things for Kootenay residents in this year’s budget

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
February 21st, 2019

NDP MLA’s were busy working their respective ridings, drumming up enthusiasm after Finance Minister Carol James introduced the BC Budget for 2018-19 Tuesday in Victoria.

The “stay-the-course” budget was tabled at the Legislature with no news taxes and little new spending.

This budget does carry surplus, however, with more debt.

“There are so many good things for Kootenay residents in this year’s budget,” Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall said in phone interview recently with The Nelson Daily.

“People are going to see, under this budget, 43 percent less in taxes that under the BC Liberals,” the BC Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources added.

A few of the main points delivered from Victoria, Minister Mungall discussed, included:

MSP Premiums:

“First of all, (residents) are not going to be paying and MSP anymore, which is up to an $1800 per year tax break for people all throughout BC, including here in the Kootenays.

Interest-Free Student loans, as of Febuary 19, 2019:

“Students, from Selkirk College have been coming to me for years wanting to see an end to interest on their BC student loans and the good news is we’re delivering on that this year. That’s going to be a big savings, right when they need it most when they’re starting off in life.”

New BC Child Opportunity Benefit:

“Some people are wondering why we’re putting in place down the road in October 2020, that’s because we have to follow Canada Revenue Agency rules for giving Federal Government notice of the new benefits type. So, we’re doing this as soon as we can but what this means is this benefit for people here in our area is going to directly to families . . .  directly to children $1600 per year to families with one child. That amount increases with more children in the family.”

Clean BC Plan:

“Electric vehicles are part of our Clean BC Plan and a lot of people in the Kootenay have told me they’d love to buys an electric vehicle but there are a few things inhibiting them . . .. We’re going to be helping people with the cost with a rebate up to $6000 when they purchase their electric vehicle as well as they will be saving up to $1500 each year by not having to pay for gas by using much more affordable electricity.

Increasing charging stations, is also part of our Clean BC Plan, we’ve been doing that particularly in the Kootenays . . ..”

Affordable Housing:

“We recently announced $4.5 Million in funding to Nelson Cares for Affordable housing near the Nelson and District Community Centre.  Those types of investments are going to be continuing, as well we’re working with the non-profit sector to develop affordable housing.

Wildfires:

“There’s $72 Million support wildfire resilience and recovery efforts  in communities, that have already been affected by wildfires, but there’s also an additional $111 Million to strengthen efforts to prevent wildfires.”

Mungall also discussed the  independent power production (IPP) trumpeted by Premier Gordon Campbell in 2008.

She said a recent study by former Treasury Board Director Ken Davidson revealed the Liberals created a position with BC Hydro that taxpayers were having to pay for, meanwhile their supporters walked away with a whole lot of profits.

“We see that throughout the way the previous government delivered their budgets and ran the government,” Mungall said. “We saw tax breaks for the rich, we saw housing supported with safety deposits boxes in the sky for speculators that’s now how we want to be doing things, and it’s not what governments should be doing with tax dollars.”

“We should be taking people’s tax dollars and turning around and making sure they would directly benefit from that taxation, that they will see affordable housing, that they will see childcare, that they will see healthcare . . .  that their kids can go to school and get an education without a battle with teachers . . .. “

Mungall said her government is addressing those needs by taking advantage of the thriving BC economy and the province having the lowest unemployment rate in Canada.

“It’s about a government that turned around and said, “Let’s work for people, even more”.’

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