FORT ST. JOHN, B.C – MLA Dan Davies is still sifting through the B.C. budget, but after viewing Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s presentation Tuesday, he believes there is more negative than good.

The budget revealed very few new announcements, which included 195 new substance use treatment and recovery beds across the province and funding to expand reconciliation efforts. The majority of the budget builds on or repeats promises made during the course of the pandemic.

The budget projects an $8.1 billion deficit over the last year, down from the estimated $13.6 billion projected last year. Despite expecting a decline in deficits over the next three years, overall it shows a $40 billion increase in debt in the same period.

Davies believes it will take around a decade for the province to get out of the negative.

“That worries me as a parent, I’m not even worried for my kids, well, I’m worried for my kids, but it’s my grandkids as well, maybe my great grandkids, unless we get a grip on getting this under control.”

Like with any budget, spending is needed, especially in the midst of a worldwide pandemic where families need support. Around $6 billion in new spending was announced for pandemic recovery, which was the main focus of the budget. The problem for Davies was the lack of funding announcements for industry sectors.

“We need to find ways to get people back to work.”

“We will not get out of this place we’re in right now unless we support forestry, support mining, support the wind and gas sector, granted, I’m happy to see that there was money for tourism. That’s important. ”

Despite the latest travel restrictions  Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth will expand on Friday, funding was included in the budget for another industry hit hard. The tourism industry will acquire $100 million in new spending with the fiscal plan also looking to allocate $120 million from the Pandemic and Recovery Contingencies fund “for further tourism recovery and support”.

The budget did include ongoing funding worth $519 million through CleanBC’s Program for industry to transition to low-carbon technology.

Davies is worried the province isn’t ready for when restrictions are lifted.

“We need to make sure that British Columbia is attractive for people to invest in, and there’s nothing here for that. There’s nothing that’s going to bring people to invest in British Columbia, we need the private sector to be growing in this province, not leaving us.”

With the budget’s heavy focus on pandemic recovery, nothing new was announced for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Robinson said Tuesday she would be in contact with the minister of small business to see what extra supports are needed after the recent circuit-breaker restrictions. Funding, worth $195 million, will be provided to continue the existing Small- and Medium-sized Business Recovery Grant program. It allows businesses to access up to $30,000 to support recovery and adapt to COVID-19.

As for infrastructure funding, the item most around the North Peace was hoping for was not announced.

“The Northeast in my opinion has been left out. The Taylor bridge is not in there — there are no large infrastructure projects other than Site C.”

Now that the budget has been tabled, members of the Legislative Assembly will debate the budget. Budget Debate lasts a maximum of six sitting days, comprising at least eight sittings.