Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday.

Selina Robinson said her skills as a good listener and relationship builder were valuable and necessary to help put together a budget during the ongoing period of pandemic upheaval.

Robinson released a fiscal update last December stating the pandemic’s impact on B.C.’s economy remained uncertain, but the budget deficit was projected at $13.6 billion.

The last budget, tabled in February 2020 just as B.C.’s first COVID-19 cases were being diagnosed, forecast three years of modest surpluses, including a surplus of $227 million for 2020-21.

“What I can say is it is going to be a deficit budget,” Robinson said Saturday in an interview. “We’ve been very mindful about how to make decisions for British Columbians so that we can have a path forward that gets us through and over the next number of years back to balance. We’re committed to getting back to balance.”

Robinson, who has a master’s degree in counselling psychology, said she leaned on her experience working with families to prepare a budget that reflects the concerns and future wishes of B.C. residents during the pandemic era.

“I’m trained to look at dynamics between people and to build relationships,” Robinson said. “I have found that training has helped me considerably in my job. I’m also trained as a listener, which has also helped listening to British Columbians, to various groups, listening to my colleagues.”

She said listening to business groups, social advocates and families has provided the over-arching focus of the budget, which aims to help the province get through the pandemic and look ahead to economic recovery.

“We don’t want to leave people behind,” Robinson said. “We want to make sure all children have enough food in their bellies. We want to make sure businesses can plan a future that allows them to grow their business. We want people to have health and safety in their communities.”

The former housing minister was appointed to the finance port folio last fall after the NDP’s October election win.

Robinson said she immediately realized the budget, delayed from its traditional February release, would have to face the challenge of the pandemic head on.

“I thought, ‘this has never been done before,’” she said. “How do you build a budget where you’re still dealing with the pandemic and needing to take care of people, making sure their health and safety is a priority and start planning and building out for a recovery?”

The budget aims to take care of people during the pandemic while preparing for a post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said.

“If we can hold tight, keep our circles down, get through the vaccination process quickly, then we can move into the recovery phase,” she said. “People need the services. They need the medical support. They need mental health support. They need to make sure they’ll get through this pandemic.”

The Opposition Liberals, who have criticized the NDP’s pandemic relief efforts as slow and unfocused, say the budget needs an economic recovery plan that includes commitments to major infrastructure projects such as the George Massey Tunnel replacement in Metro Vancouver.

“This NDP government has delayed numerous vital infrastructure projects since coming into office, making it clear that despite what they may say, these projects have not been a priority, and it’s time for that to change,” Liberal transportation critic Michael Lee said in a statement.

The B.C. branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is also calling for more infrastructure spending on transit, education and housing, but says investments in mental health and care programs for children and the elderly are paramount.

Robinson said the budget aims to build strength in order to lay the groundwork for future recovery.

“There are absolutely numerous challenges in front of us and we’re making sure that we can support people, support businesses, support communities, so that we can all get to where we want to get,” she said. “Some might say that’s fantasy thinking, but it is why we all work together.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Just Posted

File photo
Paramedic training returning to Castlegar

Emergency Medical Responder and Primary Care Paramedic training to take place in Castlegar

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

South Okanagan MP Richard Cannings wants to see dental coverage for all Canadians. (courtesy of Pixabay)
OPINION: South Okanagan MP fights for universal dental care

One in three Canadians have no dental coverage, with COVID making it even worse

COVID-19 cases are once again dropping across the West Kootenay. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Ten new cases of COVID-19 in Nelson area

Numbers are steadily dropping across the West Kootenay

Dep. Fire Chiefs Rich Piché (left) and Stephane Dionne said they were disappointed that only one person showed up at the George Evans fire hall’s recruitment drive Tuesday evening, May. 11. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue says rural fire hall at risk of closing

Home insurance could spike across North Fork if George Evans fire hall loses fire protection status

Conservation Service Officer Kyle Bueckert holds a gold eagle that was revived from acute rodent poisoning Monday, May 12. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks residents, Conservation Service Officer save poisoned eagle

CSO Kyle Bueckert released the eagle into the wild Thursday, May 13

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

The Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana. The dam created the Koocanusa Reservoir, which straddles the B.C./Montana border. (photo courtesy Wikipedia)
Outflow at Libby Dam to be increased

Volume increase to aid migration and spawning conditions for endangered white sturgeon in the Kootenai River

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read