The BC Liberals argue the Rural Dividend Fund** was created so smaller communities can build capacity and promote economic diversification.
Liberals say the government should not be punishing rural B.C. by taking away important funding that helps create jobs and contributes to the overall wellness and sustainability of smaller communities.
“It is simply unbelievable that during a time of crisis for forestry-dependent communities, the NDP would pile on with the suspension of the Rural Dividend Fund,” says Rural Development critic and Liberal MLA Donna Barnett.
“Only the NDP would think alienating small communities, driving away economic growth and putting even more jobs at risk is a good idea.”
Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson says he wants the communities to know that applications that have made will be kept for future funding cycles. He went on to say the government made the decision to ensure workers in rural communities are supported.
“That is what communities told us was needed the most for their economic stability and the economic future. That is why we temporarily re-purposed funding in the rural development program,” Donaldson said.
**A number of projects in Oliver and Osoyoos are funded/were to be funded by the Dividend Fund.
MLA Linda Larson says this ” Pool study grant (Oliver/Osoyoos) application cancelled not health study (Osoyoos) under Rural Dividend Grant program ”
Apparently those municipalities with grant applications in hand have been informed that funding is not cut off but delayed for at least a year – with the budgeted $25 million going to areas in the province hit hardest by forestry shut downs.