Home Business & Economy Affordability “Right thing to do”: Budget 2024 to continue affordability supports

“Right thing to do”: Budget 2024 to continue affordability supports

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BC Finance Minister Katrine Conroy visited the Fernwood Community Centre and learned about Good Food Box services, Feb 21, 2024 in Victoria. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Wednesday February 21, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 3:23 pm]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Today’s BC Budget 2024 preview with the Finance Minister was held at a community centre in a lower-income area of downtown Victoria. That set the tone for the continuation of affordability supports by the BC NDP government this year.

finance minister, katrine conroy
BC Finance Minister Katrine Conroy at her pre-budget event on Feb 21, 2024 in Victoria. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy will deliver Budget 2024 tomorrow, February 22, at 1 pm. Ahead of that she will meet with media to answer questions.

The government’s budget comes in just over eight months from now, on October 19. The current spring session of the BC Legislative Assembly (which runs to May 16) will be its last before the province dives into election campaign mode.

Pre-budget media session:

Today Conroy answered media questions after posing for a photo op with the Good Food Box program volunteers at the Fernwood Community Centre on Gladstone Avenue.

“As a person who gardens” she likes “getting her hands on the vegetables”. Today’s photo backdrop was numerous bags of food, each with veggie greens poking out the top.

The overall budget will continue to provide $10-a-day child care, development of rental housing and other affordable housing initiatives. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Conroy, who has been Finance Minister since Premier David Eby announced his first cabinet in December 2022.

She pointed out that about 100,000 women have been able to return to work since the pandemic due to the supports available through affordable child care.

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The Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society is based in the west shore of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.

Cutbacks are the wrong approach:

“Some say we should cutback,” said Conroy, referring to political opposition that would very likely cut services as a way to trim the budget deficit and also shift more funding support to middle class and larger business investment.

“That’s the wrong approach” when people are struggling with “the cost of everyday life and find housing they can afford”.

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Education and health care:

Education and health care take up the largest part of the provincial budget in most provinces. In BC these are priorities.

She looped in references to education. The Fernwood Community Centre is directly across from Victoria High which is getting a full new building to seismic standards. There have been population increase pressures on school districts (especially in fast-growing areas like Surrey and Sooke/westshore) but there was no specific mention of increased education funding today.

Conroy said this year the BC NDP government will continue “strengthen” health care and continue to build a “stronger, cleaner province”. “I’ts not the right time to make cuts,” she said. She noted that BC has one of the strongest provincial economies in Canada right now (and has been for the last few years).

Business, economy, deficit:

She mentioned that small businesses were assisted during the pandemic with grants, though arguably there are still many small businesses struggling with the economic recovery impacts of the COVID-related socioeconomic shifts in society and economy.

“The global economy is slow as well,” said Conroy. She has mentioned that many times before. BC is not insulated from broader impacts of shipping interruptions and wars abroad.

katrine conroy, finance minister, food bags, shoes
BC Finance Minister Katrine Conroy addressed media at her pre-budget event on Feb 21, 2024 in Victoria. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“We will have a deficit but it’s not the right rime to make cuts for people,” declared BC’s Finance Minister in front of a bank of TV cameras and news reporters. She couldn’t pinpoint the size of the deficit (projected to reach $5.6 billion late last year) but the budget’s long-term outlook forecasts deficit declines.

She was asked about her ‘budget day shoes’. She won’t be buying new ones — as is the tradition when a finance minister announces a new budget. She’s prudent with dollars, Conroy pointed out.


Jobs and credentials:

She was light on talking about jobs but did mention the importance of processing international credits for newcomers arriving in Canada to join the workforce.

Just yesterday, BC got a new Parliamentary Secretary for International Credentials — new MLA Ravi Parmar was ushered into the post with no more fanfare than being mentioned lower down in a press release about two new cabinet minister posts (Lisa Beare now heading up Post-Secondary and Future Skills and George Chow now heading up Citizens’ Services).

Urban food supports:

As for community gardens and urban food growing, Conroy says government has discussed both with her ministry.

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She mentioned that one of the benefits of child care supports is so that families can “invest in fresh fruits and vegetables” as was told to her by someone in the community.

Food security supports in schools will continue (the Feeding Futures program). “With the affordability issues with food in schools it’s critically important, and we’ll be announcing more about that in the coming days,” the finance minister said today.

“Food security is always an issue of importance to our government. We”ll be talking about that tomorrow,” said Conroy. “There have been lots of discussions about community gardens and food security right across the province,” she said.

The Agriculture and Food Ministry has been distributing a $200 million fund (from the 2022-2023 budget surplus) around the food production and distribution sector for a year now. That has included supports for farming production and food bank operations and storage.

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Island Social Trends reports news with socioeconomic insights and analysis. Independent news service on south Vancouver Island, BC.


Island Social Trends covers news of the south Vancouver Island region and provincial news, with a socioeconomic lens. Originating out of the west shore of Greater Victoria, there is also some local focus on key issues.

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Mary P Brooke, Editor & Publisher of Island Social Trends.

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery. She also has a B.Sc. in Foods and Nutrition.

Island Social Trends is an independent news service. News is posted free online at IslandSocialTrends.ca and a Premium PDF of the biweekly edition (with deeper analysis and news summaries) is available by digital subscription.