BC Budget highlights

Finance Minister Selina Robinson tabled the 2021 provincial Budget in the legislature today. The budget projects deficits of $9.7 billion this year, $5.5 million next year, and $4.3 million in the year following. Budget 2021 also included significant new funding commitments of interest to local governments, including those for mental health and substance use; housing affordability and homeless populations; economic recovery; and childcare.

 

Mental Health & substance use  

$3.1 billion over three years to improve health and mental health care, including $500 million to continue to expand mental health and substance use services as follows:

Mental health funding

  • $97 million to build a network of mental health supports for youth through increased mental health funding for schools, new Foundry centres that provide young people health and wellness resources in their community, and integrated child and youth supports teams for 15 more school districts.
  • $61 million in new funding over three years to improve access and quality of mental health services, including expanding eating disorder care and better access to suicide prevention services and early psychosis intervention.
  • $14 million for the First Nations Health Authority to deliver mental health and addictions services to Indigenous peoples.

Substance use and overdose emergency response

  • $330 million over the fiscal plan to provide a full spectrum of substance-use treatment and recovery services, including $152 million for opioid treatment.
  • 195 new substance use treatment and recovery beds in communities throughout the province to help more people get on a path to recovery.

Primary & COVID response care

  • $253 million over three years to continue to expand team-based and urgent primary care that provides British Columbians with faster access to doctors and nurse practitioners.
  • The Province has allocated an additional $900 million for 2021/22 from the Pandemic and Recovery Contingencies for health-related needs as the health sector continues to manage the effects of the pandemic.

Investments in housing and supports for homeless populations

  • $2 billion (announced last week) in additional funding to expand the HousingHub program to construct 9,000 more rental homes over the next 3-5 years. This builds on funding allocated over the course of the plan to the build more than 10,000 new low- and middle-income housing units through grant funding to non-profit housing providers and $1.6 billion in capital investments.
  • $265 million allocated in 2021/22 to extend supports and services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. There is an additional $30 million over the fiscal plan for ongoing housing support cost associated with recent hotel purchases that are providing 400 units of temporary shelter.
  • Budget 2021 also includes funding to help maintain more than 3,000 temporary emergency shelter and hotel spaces that have been secured during the pandemic. Funding is also provided to extend he additional 650 urgent shelter spaces, rent supplements, and supportive housing sites used to support recent decampments efforts in Vancouver and Victoria, with on-site health and other supports.
  • In addition to continued investments in the Homes for B.C. Supportive Housing Fund, the Province is partnering with the federal government through the Rapid Housing Initiative to convert existing buildings into supportive housing, and to support development of modular housing to expedite housing solutions for homeless or other vulnerable populations.

Infrastructure funding & broadband

The Government of Canada has committed to $3.9 billion in B.C. infrastructure over a 10-year period starting in 2018/19 to support public transit; green infrastructure; community, culture and recreation; rural and northern communities; and the COVID-19 resilience stream. The Province has supported these initiatives with total allocations of $3.6 billion anticipated over the 10-year period. This includes: 

  • new Budget 2021 provincial funding commitments of $41 million over the fiscal plan, or $247 million over the next six years to maximize federal contributions and continue to support local governments, not-for-profit entities and First Nations in accessing community infrastructure funding. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs will be communicating further details on the application process for new intakes in the fall of 2021.
  • $100 million 21/22 for Community Infrastructure investments; BC 150 Community Grants; CleanBC recovery
  • Building on the Province’s recent one-time investments of $140 million, Budget 2021 establishes stable base funding of $40 million over the plan to further invest in the Province’s connectivity strategy.

Climate Change

  • $506 million over the fiscal plan to support CleanBC, including:
    • $130 million to support incentives for zero emission vehicles, charging infrastructure, electrification of school buses, ferries, provincial government fleets, and commercialization of heavy-duty fleets – this includes $18 million for active transportation infrastructure
    • $6 million to support the first phase of the provincial adaptation strategy
    • $11 million to develop and fund a new program for local governments to plan for compact, energy efficient communities
    • $46 million for energy efficient buildings and communities 
    • A new PST exemption on electric bikes 

Childcare

  • $233 million increase in base funding over three years for childcare to create new spaces. New federal funding will help BC to build on this commitment  

Public Transit

  • $1.9 for public transit services including free transit for youth 12 and under across the province  

Support for business:

  • $195 million in 2021/22 to continue the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant Program 
  • $120 million in 2021/22 from the Pandemic and Recovery Contingencies for further tourism recovery. This includes $20 million in recovery funding for more community destination development grants to enhance tourism infrastructure
  • $60 million for the Centre of Innovation and Clean Energy to support the development and commercialization of clean tech
  • $519 million for CleanBC’s Program for Industry to help industry, including forestry and mining, transition to low carbon technology 

Reconciliation

  • $60 million annually in base budget funding to support a range of activities, including engagement with Indigenous peoples on legislation, policy, and programs; negotiation capacity; and initiatives that increase participation in land and resource activities within their territories.
  • $59 million for cultural safety and humility training across health and mental health and addiction services
  • $20 million in rural economic recovery grants for Indigenous and local governments to support job creation in construction

Agriculture 

  • The Province has also allocated $35 million in 2021/22 to continue to support B.C. farmers in safely accessing and accommodating temporary foreign workers to support crop harvesting.  

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