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

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use bean bag round in arrest

Man arrested for assault with weapon, uttering threats

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

A member of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Clean Team works along Fort Street. The team will be working weekends from May through September, providing seven day a week coverage. (Photo courtesy DVBA)
Downtown Victoria cleanup service expanded for spring, summer

Clean Team members to patrol sidewalks seven days a week through September

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward comes away with the puck after a battle along the boards with Grizzlies defenceman Jake Veilleux. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions

Grizzlies edged Alberni Valley Bulldogs in back-to-back matches to claim title

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Most Read