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Comox Valley MLA defends Liberal budget from NDP criticism

Comox Valley NDP candidate Kassandra Dycke criticizes the B.C. Liberal budget for adding costs and cutting vital services to families.

Comox Valley Liberal MLA Don McRae feels the budget, delivered Tuesday, contains "some amazing things" for Valley residents.

He cites a new homeowner buyer's bonus, which offers a $10,000 rebate on houses worth more than $200,000; a seniors home renovation tax credit up to $1,000 on work at home, be it a handrail, walk-in bathtub or ramp; and a low-income veterans homeowner grant for those under 65.

"In the end, no matter how you add up all the taxations, we still pay the second lowest taxes in all of Canada (next to Alberta)," McRae said.

Dycke suggests the budget contains nothing for education and skills training, but leaves spending for the premier's office untouched.

She also notes concern about "ever-increasing MSP premiums.

"There's nothing in this budget to offer hope that our hospital situation will be resolved any sooner, but we'll all be paying more for health insurance," Dycke said in a news release. "In fact, an average family will be paying $732 more in 2013 than they were in 2001. That's almost double the premiums."

While health care costs are on the rise, McRae said the increase does not take effect for another year.

"Low-income British Columbians are protected from MSP premiums," he said, noting about one million individuals do not pay premiums due to their income level. "A huge number of British Columbians actually have their MSP premiums paid through their employer contract...We have now taken a health care budget from $9 billion in 2001 to almost $17 billion in 2012."

McRae said total capital spending for the next three years will be $19.2 billion, including $1.3 billion for health care facilities.

"I ran on the promise of getting the hospital built on the North Island, and I think that's a pretty good signal," he said.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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