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Budget 2024 a win for Courtenay-Alberni but ‘disappointing’ for Canada: MP

Housing, youth mental health, school lunches are all benefits for Vancouver Island riding
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NDP MP for Courtenay-Alberni Gord Johns’ health-based approach to substance use bill was rejected. He is pictured here addressing the House of Commons during Question Period on Feb. 3, 2022. (Photo: Christian Diotte/House of Commons Photo Services)

While the 2024 federal budget brought some wins to the Courtenay-Alberni riding, NDP MP Gord Johns said the budget was disappointing for Canadians. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the budget on Tuesday, April 16 in the House of Commons.

The Liberals calling their $535-billion budget ‘generational fairness’ is “disingenuous,” says Johns, and “failed to tackle corporate greed that is driving up prices.”

Johns said he is happy to see the national school food program appear in the budget as well as dental care—programs that the NDP advocated for after the Liberals initially voted against them, he added.

The Liberals could have done more to tackle the financial pressures low- and middle-income Canadians are feeling right now, he said. “They didn’t put in place an excess profits tax. We’re disappointed the Liberals didn’t show the courage to do that.”

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Johns said the school food program and dental care are wins for his riding, as well as some part of the housing announcements. The new youth mental health fund is historic—up to $500 million will be delivered straight to community programs over the next five years. “It’s critical the federal government gets this funding out the door quickly,” Johns said. He praised ADAPS in Port Alberni for meeting with federal ministers last year and advocating for increased funding, saying those meetings were “instrumental.”

More funding was also announced for Indigenous mental health programs, he said, and $150 million earmarked for emergency treatment programs. While he applauded the extra funding, Johns said the country, and especially his riding, is in a health crisis and that funding won’t go far. “The federal Liberals have spent less than one percent on the toxic drug crisis than we did to COVID-19,” he added.

The budget calls for $8.5 billion in new spending over the next five years to build millions of new homes and nearly $2.6 billion to enhance student aid and grant programs and open up new job opportunities. Johns said B.C., including Port Alberni, is leading the way in developing badly-needed non-market housing. In the past few years the Alberni Valley has seen 470 new units of non-market housing, including seniors homes, Indigenous community housing and social housing. “It’s an historic amount but it is needed.”

Johns said the federal government could have gone further by bringing back co-op housing, which was phased out three decades ago. “We need to go back to that,” he said. “We’re far behind countries in Europe. The Liberals and Conservatives believe in the free market to solve the housing market.

“That’s not going to solve the housing crisis.”



Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I have been the Alberni Valley News editor since August 2006.
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