Federal budget irks Skeena-BV MP Cullen

Changes to Gas Tax Fund potentially good news for Smithers

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP, Nathan Cullen, isn’t impressed with the budget released by the Conservative federal government last week, claiming the federal government is playing the shell game with existing program funding.

For example, Cullen said, money that was going to the provinces for training is being clawed back by the federal government to manage itself as part of the new Canada Jobs Grant which will potentially provide training for up to 130,000 low-skilled workers and Canadians who are ineligible for employment insurance.

Under the Canada Jobs Grant, applicants are eligible to receive $15,000, with $5,000 coming from the federal government, from monies they are clawing back from the provincial job-training program they established in the last budget, with $5,000 coming from employers and $5,000 from the provinces.

“This is strange because it was this Conservative government that gave this money [job training] to the provinces in the first place saying the provinces could do it better.

“We think the provinces have a better sense of the skills needs in the different regions.

“All this budget does is move the money from one pot to the other.”

The move isn’t going to make up for any shortfalls in the demand for skilled workers, Cullen said, especially skilled-labor jobs where proposed projects could lead to a rise by tens of thousands.

Given the focus on job training, it was expected the budget would funnel money into post-secondary institutions such as Northwest Community College that offer training in skilled labour jobs.

“That’s too bad [NWCC didn’t receive additional funding] because the college does great value for money, but it really needs a lot more local [provincial] control,” Cullen said, referring to the federal government’s clawback of job training funds.

Part of the job strategy announced in the budget is a $109 million workfare program directed at aboriginals living on reserves who receive social assistance.

The program is only available to reserve communities agreeing to a mandatory participation policy, including a set of compliance measures.

“What’s frustrating is that we had a decent skills and apprenticeship program that would give First Nations people access to the skilled labour jobs in the resource world,” Cullen said.

“Instead the government’s saying that the problem is First Nations youth and young people in general are just lazy so we’re going to force them into workfare programs.

“No other Canadian has a workfare program imposed upon them.

“That smacks of racism.”

Smithers Mayor, Taylor Bachrach, saw some good news in the federal budget, namely around infrastructure funding.

Of note, Bachrach said, are changes to the Gas Tax Fund which make recreation facilities, such as the proposed second arena, eligible to receive funding.

“They’ve expanded the criteria to include recreation facilities,” Bachrach said.

With plans for a new arena in Smithers, Bachrach said the new criteria would make it easier to raise funds for recreation facilities which are typically difficult to fund.

Another welcome part of the budget, for the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, including Smithers is a $47 billion infrastructure program with a 10-year run.

“It falls within the need for long-term planning,” Bachrach said.

But, Bachrach also added, the amount falls short of what Canadian municipalities really need to tend to their infrastructure needs.

Cullen agreed, noting the infrastructure monies promised in the budget would barely make a dent in the more than $200 billion municipalities across Canada need to make upgrades to their aging infrastructure, from buildings to sewers and roads.

Cullen also noted the funding was already in place and the amount promised didn’t take one important factor into consideration.

“They don’t account for inflation over the 10 years, they’re pretending there’s going to be no inflation for the next decade ,” Cullen said.

“Even considering a low increase in inflation, the cost to the infrastructure program would be $5 billion.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Town grants Chamber $20K

Chamber estimates up to $65K in lost revenue, turns to council for help

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

New Salt Boutique the realization of a vision for owner Caroline Marko

Marko combines the rough and the soft in a minimalist, clean airy space

Coastal GasLink pipeline work ramps up

With spring thaw ending, workers start to arrive for summer season

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read