Provincial throne speech set for vote on June 29

Barnett: Rural areas stand to lose along with Liberals

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says if her government doesn’t win the vote expected today (June 29) aimed at ousting Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals, this will also demolish other bills important to her constituency.

By most accounts, this is expected to happen since the BC NDP and Green parties agreed to defeat the Liberals and attempt to form a minority NDP government (with Green support) and committed to the confidence vote slated to take place on June 29 (today).

However, Barnett says the economic relief from the “collaborative agenda” laid out in Premier Clark’s Throne Speech won’t go through under the Opposition’s plans.

“The government listened to the people from the last election, and basically decided to put in the Throne Speech what British Columbians spoke clearly about – they want stable government, they want increased daycare …

“The Rural Dividend will now be $50 million a year, not $25 million a year, to help small communities in British Columbia, which is under my ministry and my mandate, and that will certainly help the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

This depends on who is running the government after today, like other rural support bills she doubts will reappear under any new NDP government.

“I will also make sure our resource industries stay strong and stable. It will be a battle with the NDP and Greens if they take over government because they are not interested in the resource industries. During the election, they were only interested in the Lower Mainland and the social programs.”

While some of the promises in the throne speech were based on ones made during the election by the NDP and the Green parties, Barnett says they were in the party platforms but were not costed-out.

There are other pledges from Clark in the Throne Speech for large increases in who can claim daycare subsidies, with eligibility for 100 per cent subsidy to be increased to a family income of $60,000 (from $40,000, up 50 per cent) and families earning up to $100,000 (from $55,000, up 82 per cent) will be eligible for a partial subsidy.

“What the Cariboo-Chilcotin would gain from it is more services for seniors, more services for education for youth…. everything will benefit the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

“But the thing for me is, the increase in the Rural Dividend and the fact that we support the resource industries. Site C will continue on.”

Early childhood education (including child care) would gain $1-billion and provide 60,000 spaces over the next four years, she says, adding it is “so important” to present more opportunities and assistance for young families.

“In my opinion, you can’t start education early enough – with all the technology and the access for youngsters, you have to make sure they get the proper [start].”

Barnett says all parties have to “build bridges” for working together as the government.

“This province has to be inclusive and that is our objective.”

With files from Monica Lamb-Yorski.

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