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Continued investments for Budget 2024 a good sign, lacking for safe drug supply: CCPA

While Budget 2024 shows significant investments that benefit British Columbians, it lacks investments to help bring more safe drug supply to those who need them.

That is from senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Alex Hemingway. He says that the province is making the right move in continuing to invest despite calls to slash spending and taxes.

“The government is saying ‘no, we’re going to focus on investing and meeting some of the big challenges that the province is facing,’ and we know there are many,” said Hemingway.

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However, Hemingway says plenty is missing from the budget. The biggest among which is a lack of investment in providing more access to safe drug supply as the province goes through the toxic drug crisis.

“We know we have this toxic drug crisis, people are dying in devastating numbers month after month, and it seems the government has decided it’s not going to listen to the coroner’s report and invest in broadening access to safe supply to stop those deaths,” said Hemingway.

Hemingway feels, however, that the issue is not to do with a lack of funding available but rather, backlash over new measures. He says the situation needs to be de-politicized on both sides.

“That’s the message that the B.C. coroner was giving us before she retired. There are many things that need to be done to help folks who use drugs or who are facing addictions,” said Hemingway.

“One of the most important is to give people access to that safe supply so we can save their lives now.”

While there are calls to lower taxes and spending, Hemingway says there were cuts to social spending in the early 2000s. He says the province still has not recovered from spending because of the cuts, including costs of childcare and housing.

“We need housing so that businesses so that businesses can recruit workers, we need childcare so that more parents can join the labour force when they want to,” said Hemingway.

“For the medium and long-term, if we want to sustain that public spending, we need to also increase revenue.”

He adds what they would like to see at the CCPA is more tax measures for those at the very top like large companies and the very wealthy few, which is not in the budget.

More housing initiatives will still be needed in the future, according to Hemingway.

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