The Liberal government’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services made a stop in Williams Lake Wednesday.
The committee, comprising of 10 MLAs, has been tasked with consulting B.C. residents regarding their priorities for the next provincial budget.
Speakers addressing the committee included private business, business lobby groups, citizens, senior advocates, post-secondary and student representatives as well as government bodies.
Audrey MacLise, chair of the Seniors Advisory Council of Williams Lake and Area, called on the government to expand affordable housing and health options for seniors so they can be independent for as long as possible.
She acknowledged the importance of the opening of Deni House but noted that the community would still be short care beds now and into the future. MacLise touched on the cost of pharmaceuticals as being an impediment to seniors staying healthy and she asked that the government cancel the payment of medical services plan premiums for seniors.
“Not paying MSP would help older adults to cope with increase in costs of living,” she said.
In presenting municipal concerns, Mayor Kerry Cook told the committee that there were three issues that should be addressed: infrastructure, the creation of fair-share tax agreements and the funding of the judicial system.
Cook said there is not enough capacity locally and so small- to medium-size municipalities depend on higher levels of government for funding for infrastructure projects.
As for the creation of a fair-share tax program, Cook asked that such a program, where revenue generated from resource industries outside a municipality’s boundary be shared with the nearby municipality that provides direct support — by way of services, infrastructure, etc. — to the industry.
Lastly Cook told the committee that a reduction in judicial services — particularly those provided by Crown counsel — was not acceptable.
Committee member MLA Doug Donaldson asked Cook whether there was a concern regarding the number of people representing themselves in court. He said he heard that bogs the system down.
Cook said she wasn’t aware of the impact of that particular issue.