BC Building Trades applauds the BC NDP Government for delivering a balanced 2020 budget while still investing in essential infrastructure, programs and services.
Budget 2020 commits a record $22.9 billion to capital spending over three years. This investment in hospitals, housing, schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure is projected to create more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction alone.
“It’s refreshing to have a government in Victoria whose focus is on the issues that matter to British Columbians,” said BCBT executive director Andrew Mercier.
Taxpayer-supported capital spending in Budget 2020 is $2.8 billion more than the previous budget, primarily due to new capital spending in the areas of health, education and transportation. Mercier said he’s particularly pleased to see a commitment by the province to proceed with a new crossing to replace the George Massey Tunnel.
Budget 2020 commits to a three-phase plan for moving forward on the crossing, including the expectation that the province will make a final investment decision on the scope, budget, delivery and schedule of the project by the fall of this year.
“The new George Massey Crossing is an excellent opportunity to invest in B.C. infrastructure, relieve traffic and congestion for commuters and facilitate the movement of goods in that region,” said Mercier. “This project is a great candidate to be developed through a Community Benefits Agreement, which prioritizes training and apprenticeship and offers opportunities to underrepresented groups in the skilled trades, including Indigenous workers and women,” said Mercier.
With its emphasis on the Pattullo Bridge replacement project, the Broadway SkyTrain and now the Massey Crossing, Budget 2020 addresses some of the Lower Mainland’s biggest transportation priorities, Mercier added.
“These projects will deliver vital public infrastructure while also providing job and training opportunities, investment in local economies, and income tax revenue,” said Mercier.
Investment in training is vitally important, said Mercier, given the province’s skilled trades shortage and the fact that it already has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada.
Mercier also applauded Budget 2020’s investment in post-secondary education and training with $41 million for the B.C. Access Grant, which includes assistance for those pursuing shorter duration certificate and diploma programs as well as those pursuing more traditional degree programs.