MLA Ron Cantelon says the budget handed down by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon on Tuesday is good news — for seniors and young people alike.
“I’m quite encouraged,” the Parksville-Qualicum MLA said. “It’s optimistic. It seems to me that the news is getting better, with the economy stabilized and with an increase in exports, particularly to China. Now we can hope for — and expect — a better future.”
Cantelon said local seniors will be able to benefit from a $1,000 renovation tax credit for renovations to their homes.
“This will help to allow them to stay in their homes longer, and the longer you stay at home, the longer you tend to live,” he said. “It’s not just for homeowners but also for renters and can cover things like installing hand rails to prevent falls and hospitalization. Keeping people in their homes is the way to go to keep them healthier and happier.”
Cantelon disputed charges that the province has failed to live up to its promise to create residential care beds for seniors, noting the province has invested in Qualicum Gardens, Stenford Place and Cokely Manor.
“The tragedy was the condition we found some of the older beds to be in,” he said. “It’s a shame that the NDP allowed people to live where there weren’t proper washrooms or handicapped access.”
He said reports of seniors living for extended periods in hospital beds has some truth to it, but stressed many of them have special needs and need special care.
“They need a higher standard of care, in some cases, psychiatric care as well or have other medical needs that require more intensive care,” he said. “When I first came here, Tillicum Manor had four beds to a ward, with no real privacy or dignity. They couldn’t personalize it and make it their home. Contrast that to Standford Place and it’s night and day.”
Besides helping seniors with the renovation tax credit, Cantelon said the budget will also help young people.
“The $10,000 grant for first-time buyers of new homes will help young people buy and build in the area,” he said. “That’s a big bonus.”
The move, he added, will also help keep people employed in the area.
“We rely a lot on the construction industry, so that grant will help a lot,” he said.
As well, he said, a $500 tax credit for fitness programs outside of schools will go a long way towards keeping children healthy.
“Fitness makes a big difference in long-term health outcomes,” he said.
Cantelon noted the province has extended the training tax credit program to encourage employers and workers to get involved in apprenticeship programs.