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Lack of investment in northern health care a big budget concern for PG Liberal MLA’s

The latest provincial budget put forth by the NDP is getting two thumbs down from BC Liberal MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris.

Morris, who represents the Prince George-Mackenzie riding isn’t sure how the province is going to pull off massive spending promises like a 6.8 billion dollar investment in healthcare and public safety when no new money is coming in.

“We need to get our money from someplace and for some reason, the NDP has increased taxes, they are spending money like drunken sailors but there is nothing in there as to where this additional money is coming from.”

Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond added the new healthcare spending does not include needed upgrades at University Hospital.

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“There is not one word about the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia and what is more disappointing is that there are only four new capital projects that are noted in the budget.”

“We aren’t even on the radar screen yet. There is no conversation about a surgical tower or cardiac care and by the time a project like that makes it into the budget we are still years away from finishing a project like that.”

Bond believes the lack of investment in UHNBC is devastating given the fact it is considered a regional centre providing care and services to hundreds of thousands of residents each year.

She added 21 of the projects listed by the NDP in this year’s budget are either delayed or over budget.

The province announced replacement projects for hospitals located in Terrace and Dawson Creek.

However, the completion dates for both projects are slated for 2026 and 2027 – two to three years after the next provincial election (2024).

“Those are after the next election so there is nothing that is indicative of what we are going to get out of this budget and the next one before the 2024 election.”

“There is really nothing in here to support the drastic situation in terms of our health care in the Prince George area. There is nothing to indicate what they are going to do with mental health and addictions in this area. We need treatment facilities badly in Prince George and we need a regional psychiatric treatment centre here.”

Perhaps what is most troubling for Morris and Bond as it pertains to Budget 2023 is the forecasted deficit, which is slated to reach a price tag of 11 billion dollars over the next three years.

“Taxpayers simply cannot afford to have a province where the key issue is spending and there is no attention being spent on growing the economy and trying to generate revenue,” added Bond.

“The forestry sector is down, the resource sector has a lack of resources coming in there so I don’t know where they are going to get all of this money to pay for all the promises they are making in this particular budget,” added Morris.

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy announced $4.2 billion dollars will be put towards affordable housing in this year’s budget.

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