Mar 1, 2013 / 3:43 pm
Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick answered questions about the budget Friday morning at the Mary Irwin Theatre, but there were only 12 people in the audience.
Topics ranged from healthcare, training and education, economic growth and investing in BC infrastructure.
“BC is one of only two provinces that tabled a balanced budget,” said Letnick.
“It’s a privilege to be a part it.”
According to Letnick, revenues over the next three years are expected to rise an average of three per cent annually, allowing the provincial government to keep investing in priorities and paying down debt.
These steps include:
- Sales of surplus properties and assets totaling $625M over two years.
- Targeted tax measures projected to generate $1.2B additional revenue over three years.
- Expenditure growth management expected to yield $1.1B over three years
- Net economic growth expected to generate $1.7B in added revenue.
According to materials provided at the presentation, health care spending has been targeted to deliver better health outcomes, and efficiencies in health spending will keep the growth of the Ministry of Health budget to an annual average of 2.6 percent, but still add roughly $2.4B in new funding over three years.
New funding of $1M will expand the School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program through a new partnership with the BC Dairy Association. This new initiative will provide local milk to children in K-12 schools around the province.
This program helps students develop a taste for healthy eating, while connecting them to the BC farms.
“At the end of the day we have to continue to make sure we have a strong agricultural community in the province.”
“This is a tight budget but we still have about 42 billion dollars that we’re spending of your money every year.”
“The last thing I want is to leave a legacy of debt for our kids to pay off for services we got today.”
When asked why the budget made no mention of the Penticton hospital, Letnick responded that “it has to percolate up just like schools and other provincial infrastructure.”
“It’s coming; it’s just got to fit into the sequencing of balancing and discipline.”
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