Last week, Federation Executive Director Rick FitzZaland and Member Engagement and Policy Coordinator Pam Alcorn provided members with an overview and explanation of BC Budget 2021. While it did not contain everything we may have been hoping for, it was a very good recovery budget for our province and puts a lot of money in the pockets of the people and communities we serve—people who often have very little in their pockets.
It is also worth remembering that BC Budget 2021 arrived amid a series of public health emergencies: the ongoing opioid crisis, increasing mental health demands, escalating racism and hate crimes, and the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the budget clearly focuses on and invests in pandemic recovery, it also prioritizes health, mental health, substance use, and racism. And we are glad to note that some key portfolios among the people and communities to whom we provide services received significant and unprecedented increases.
- $175-a-month increase to income and disability assistance which builds on two previous increases totalling $150 since 2017, for a total increase to assistance rates of $325 a month—the largest-ever permanent increase to income and disability assistance in BC.
- $50 increase to the seniors’ supplement—the first increase since it was established in 1987.
- $68 million over three years to deliver quality home care to help seniors with daily living by increasing the number of care aides and other community care providers.
- $500 million to continue to expand mental health and substance use services to better connect people to the culturally safe and effective care they need—the largest investment in BC history.
- $330 million over three years 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.
- $1 million in prevention grants to support overdose response and awareness efforts in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities.
- $67 million in new funding for Community Living BC over three years to provide supports and services to over 24,000 adults with developmental disabilities and their families.
- $111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces through 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years—more than doubling the number of $10-a-day child care spaces across the province.
- $94 million to increase wages by $4 an hour for 11,000 early childhood educators across the province.
- $290 million over three years to support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, including money for skills training and child care as well as legislation, policy, and program engagement.
You can view a recording of the BC Budget 2021 member webinar and the Q&A session below. You can access the slides with additional highlights, figures, and investments here as well as on the Member’s page of The Federation website. (The webinar recording is also on the Member’s page.) A lot of good work is going to come out of these investments and The Federation team is well underway making sure the needs and priorities of your organizations, clients, and communities are considered and addressed.
If you have additional questions or comments about the provincial budget, the above information, or The Federation’s ongoing advocacy and engagement with the government, feel free to contact me or get in touch with The Federation office.
Director of Programs & Services