Pat Bell - http://www.patbellmla.bc.ca/
1. Congratulations to Dr. Bert Kelly of Prince George and Jeannette Townsend of Valemount on the receipt of the BC Community Achievement Award. Dr. Kelly has been instrumental in the establishment of the Northern Medical Program at UNBC, as well as the laboratory and radiology programs at the College of New Caledonia. Shirley and I have worked closely with Dr. Kelly on many health issues and have found to him to be a tireless worker for health care in the North.
2. The Province’s new SeniorsBC.ca website provides seniors and their families with better access to information on available programs and services. The Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport surveyed older British Columbians and caregivers to learn what users would like to see on a website for seniors. The results of that survey were used to design and build SeniorsBC.ca. Visitors to SeniorsBC.ca can now quickly locate up-to-date information about topics on healthy living, transportation, finances, continuing education, recreation programs, volunteer opportunities for older adults, and more. The new website also features stories and profiles of older British Columbians and a regular e-newsletter to which visitors can subscribe.
3. The Province will spend $87 million on 51 new provincial highway projects in northern B.C. this year, bringing the value of ongoing highway construction across the region to more than $200 million. This will be one of the busiest highway construction seasons in the North on record, resulting in more than 1,200 jobs throughout the North and better infrastructure to support our communities and our regional economies. Over $200 million has been committed to 70 new and ongoing highway projects across northern British Columbia alone. It is estimated that these projects will create over 1,200 direct jobs. Almost 400 highway and other transportation infrastructure projects are scheduled this construction season across British Columbia.
4. As announced in Budget 2010, B.C. school districts will receive $4.663 billion in operating grants next year, a $112-million increase over this year. Average per-pupil funding is also expected to increase by an estimated $105 from $8,196 this year to $8,301 in 2010-11. The increase to operating funding includes $54 million to fully fund the teachers’ wage settlement and $58 million to fully fund the implementation of full day Kindergarten. The per-pupil funding amount has increased by an estimated $2,039 since 2000-01. School districts project there will be 544,223 full-time equivalent (FTE) students at B.C. public schools in 2010-11, an increase of 2,306 FTE students. This increase is due primarily to the implementation of full day Kindergarten, which resulted in an additional 7,440 FTE students. Fifty-five of 60 districts will begin offering full day Kindergarten in September 2010. School districts are projecting 5,976 fewer students in grades 1 through 12. School districts facing significant cumulative enrolment decline will receive nearly $13 million in supplemental funding. Each school district will receive at least as much funding in 2010-11 as they did last year.
5. In fact while the average funding per pupil in the Province is $8,301 in School District 57 the Average is $8,802 or $501 more per pupil.
6. Nominations for the Order of British Columbia, the Province’s highest recognition of excellence and lifetime achievement, are now being accepted by the Honours and Awards Secretariat. Nominations for the Order of British Columbia will be accepted until 5 p.m., June 10, 2010. A dinner and special ceremony of recognition will be hosted later this year by Lt.-Gov. Point at Government House for recipients and invited guests. The Order of British Columbia was established in 1989. Since its inception, 287 British Columbians have been honoured. Nomination forms and information are available by contacting the Honours and Awards Secretariat in Victoria at 250 387-1616 or on the Internet at www.protocol.gov.bc.ca. Forms are also available at government agent offices.
7. A joint review of major industrial property assessment and taxation has been established between the Province, UBCM, and industry, announced Bill Bennett, Minister of Community and Rural Development, Harry Nyce, president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and Jock Finlayson, executive vice president of the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC). Over the past year a number of issues have surfaced regarding taxation of properties within the major industry classification. The February 9 throne speech identified the need to make property taxes more conducive to investment while assuring local government services are fairly provided for all taxpayers. A steering committee has met and adopted a charter to guide the review. It is expected the committee will make recommendations to the Province, industry and UBCM by fall 2010. UBCM will report out to its membership at its September 2010 Convention.
8. A new $120-million instalment of B.C.’s Infrastructure Royalty Credit program will encourage investment and infrastructure, and stimulate activity in B.C.’s natural gas sector. The ministry is now accepting requests for applications from natural gas and petroleum companies to participate in the 2010 program. Since 2004, B.C.’s Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program has allocated more than $485 million in infrastructure royalty credits to natural gas and petroleum companies operating in the province, resulting in 71 new road-based projects and 83 new pipeline projects. This represents new total capital investment in B.C. of almost $1 billion. The Province gets an approximate return on investment of $2.50 for every dollar invested – revenue that would not have been collected otherwise. The program is designed to reflect the competitive challenges of enabling year-round activity and providing infrastructure that allows natural gas activity that would otherwise not take place.
9. A record number of major construction projects are proposed in British Columbia, and nine of the 10 top-valued projects focus on clean energy. The latest Major Projects Inventory shows the number of proposed major construction projects has risen to a record high of 516. The value of the projects planned or underway is $187 billion, near the all-time high of $189 billion. Among the clean energy projects planned or underway across the province are the $1.2-billion Rocky Creek Wind Energy Project, the $900-million Machmell River Hydropower Project in Campbell River and the $222-million Upper Lillooet River Hydroelectric Project. Since 2005, the number of projects has risen by 128 per cent in the Cariboo, by 95 per cent in the Northeast, and by 63 per cent in both the Thompson/Okanagan and Nechako regions.
10. Sales tax harmonization and corporate tax cuts will increase capital investment by $14.4 billion and result in a net increase of 141,000 jobs by the end of the coming decade according to a report released by economist and tax expert Jack Mintz. The report also notes that sales tax harmonization, independent of corporate tax cuts, will account for an $11.5-billion increase in capital investment and a net increase of 113,000 jobs by the end of the coming decade. By lowering the tax on new investment, the HST will encourage capital investment, make B.C.’s economy more tax competitive, and create new jobs and opportunities across the province. While some businesses may not benefit directly from sales tax reform, the significant increase in business activity resulting from the reform will help all sectors of the economy. The report can be found online at www.gov.bc.ca/hst.>