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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

FILE – Residents of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory southwest of Montreal continue to monitor a blockade leading to blocked railroad tracks that pass through their community as they protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read