Johns: 2017 federal budget ‘falls short’

Johns: 2017 federal budget ‘falls short’

MP Gord Johns feels that the 2017 budget does not address the Alberni Valley’s needs

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns is not satisfied with the Liberals’ 2017 federal budget.

The Canadian federal government announced its official 2017 federal budget on Wednesday, March 22, and Johns was most critical of what seemed to be missing.

“There’s no new money to support the forestry industry,” he said. “We know the forest sector is going through some very difficult times right now, and they failed to provide some support.”

For the west coast, where mill layoffs have become more and more frequent, Johns said this is a concern.

“It’s a huge opportunity and a missed opportunity to build full time jobs, especially with recent closures of mills,” he said. “In light of what’s happening in the local economy, this is very important.

Budgets, Johns said, are always about choices. “And unfortunately the Liberals chose tax breaks for the wealthy over everyday people. That leaves everyday people in the Alberni Valley paying the bill.”

He said this new budget sends a message: “Get used to part-time and precarious employment.”

Johns summarized a few of the other key ways that he felt that budget fell short. It failed to take important steps to strengthen our health care system, as British Columbia is the only province that does not have support for prescription drug covera, he said. When it comes to climate change, the federal government has basically, “pushed it down the road.”

He added that there is nothing in this budget for seniors, and the budget is “doubling down” on the small businesses that build our economy, instead of lifting them up.

He was most disappointed about the lack of money for salmon enhancement, which he sees as one of the most important issues on the west coast. “Our salmon is really important for our economy, for our recreation, and culturally,” he said. He added that salmon is an important aspect of reconciliation, as well. “We’ve seen low returns, cuts in salmon restoration and salmon enhancement.

“This shows how out of touch Ottawa is with our region. The health of our salmon is the health of our community. The government failed to listen to our needs in how important this is to us.”

He did have a couple of positives to take away from the budget. He welcomes the new investments in affordable housing, although he noted that they are “heavily delayed.”

He was also pleased with the moves around infrastructure, especially the $6.7 million grant that the city of Port Alberni received to fund its wastewater treatment system.

“We’re very happy about that,” he said.

Overall, Johns felt that the budget “falls short” of what the mid-Island wants and needs. “But I’m more motivated than ever before,” he said. “I’m dedicated to bringing the needs of our municipality to their attention.”