B.C. government pleased with federal budget but hoping for more details on funding

Carole James says the federal budget addresses many of B.C.'s priorities, including funding to fight the opioid crisis and help to deal with the legalization of marijuana.

Transit 1 area where the province was hoping for additional commitments but didn't see it

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James speaks to the media about the federal government's budget on Feb. 27, 2018. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

British Columbia's finance minister says she's pleased with the direction of the federal government's budget but concerned with the slow pace of some of its initiatives.

"You really have to see the details. It's great to get the overview, and I'm glad to see our goals and the direction we believe in in B.C are being reflected, but I want to see the details and I want to see the portion that's coming to B.C.," said Carole James. 

She  says Tuesday's federal Liberal budget touches on many of the same issues that were the focus of the B.C. budget tabled last week, including reconciliation, housing, child care and opioids — $150 million in one-time funding having been committed for "multi-year projects that improve access to evidence-based treatment services."

"I hope that it's based on need, rather than strictly population, because one-third of the deaths due to overdose are happening in British Columbia," said Judy Darcy, B.C.'s minister of mental health and addictions.

"We want to expand access to prescription therapies, to safe alternatives to street drugs. We want to expand options for treatment and recovery programs ... support from the federal government is welcome."

It was the same message on housing and child care, where James says the federal government has committed the bulk of its housing and child-care money for future years.

"I was glad to see the rental housing mentioned in the budget, but I haven't seen any of the long-term plans. Most of the money is back-end loaded ... people can't wait." she said. 

"Affordability and housing is a crisis in our province. We recognize that. We put a 30-point plan forward. I want to see the federal government step up to the table

She says the federal government's decision to start a process that moves towards a national prescription drug program is welcome, but nationwide drug coverage is needed immediately.

James says she was looking for more help from the federal government on transportation infrastructure, especially for the Metro Vancouver area.

"There are a number of transit projects, particularly in the Lower Mainland ... they weren't named as specifics projects, but I'm hoping that's simply because the final details haven't been decided yet." 

With files from Megan Thomas and Justin McElroy