Finance Committee Recommendations
The committee was made up of government and opposition MLAs and we agreed on about 80 per cent of the 75 recommendations put forward. The report took a slightly different focus this year and identified the Northeast and Northwest as becoming even more important in the years ahead and therefore, a lot of recommendations came in that regard. Some of the highlights for our area are as follow:
- Develop and implement an effective, efficient, and transparent permitting review process, and ensure that government agencies have sufficient resources.
- Provide more certainty to business applicants about what is expected from them with regard to First Nations consultations and clarify what government takes responsibility for.
- Consider synchronizing Alberta and BC trucking regulations to permit wide and heavier loads (e.g. axle weights) and improve wait times for issuing permits.
- Work with all sectors and the Industry Training Authority to enhance and target apprenticeship opportunities.
- Negotiate with the federal government to expand the Provincial Nominee Program to meet the province’s labour market demands.
- Review ALR boundaries and give consideration to removing land that is not fit for agriculture, particularly in rural regions of the province.*
- Develop an industry-supported Centre Line Road that would reduce the time to travel into the center of the Horn River development by 1.5 hours, therefore eliminating the need for operating some live-in construction camps.
- Remove an appropriate amount of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve so that Fort Nelson can expand its residential land base to accommodate the growth pressure demands of developing the Horn River, Liard, and Cordova shale gas basins.*
- Initiate a Fair Share program in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality equivalent to the existing Fair Share program in the Peace River Regional District.*
- In collaboration with industry, First Nations, and the regional municipality, develop a regional economic strategy and implementation plan with ongoing monitoring for the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.
- In recognition of the pressures on public services from a rapidly expanding economy, support the development of a strategy for meeting public service needs in Fort Nelson, such as health, education and safety.
- Lower student loan interest rates to the same national ranking as BC tuition fees – i.e. middle of the pack.
- Establish a provincial system of upfront needs-based grants to ensure success for students at all socioeconomic levels.
- Expedite the review of Community Living BC and be prepared to invest as appropriate; and continue to improve planning and services for youth and adults with special needs who are in transition or whose families are in transition.
- Examine funding options for the province’s 60 restorative justice programs, including the Alberta model, as these programs result in significant cost savings.
- Cap the carbon tax at the rate as of July 2, 2012.
- Address the inequity for BC cement producers arising from imported cement not being subject to a carbon tax.
- Review the impacts of the carbon tax on all business sectors and develop a strategy to keep BC businesses competitive with other jurisdictions.*
- Consider immediate carbon tax exclusions for agriculture, including the greenhouse sector, and public institutions.*
- Stop further expenditures on the development of cap and trade until the province has sufficient trading partners to trade with.*
These are only the items that I felt were extremely important to our region, to read the entire report please go to the Ministry of Finance website. Again, I want to point out that our report was agreed upon – however, the recommendations followed by * signify ones that opposition members did not support.
Pat Pimm, MLA Peace River North