When the federal budget dropped April 21, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country MP John Weston was quick to direct the spotlight to the hard work of his constituents.
In particular, three budget items — concerning tourism, fisheries and seniors — are the direct result of grassroots efforts in the Sea to Sky, Weston said.
"We had three examples of cases where people in our riding believed in government, took an initiative, I listened and got other people to listen, and we see in this budget three specific illustrations in terms of seniors, tourism and fisheries," he said.
"(These are) things that are high in priority for people in Whistler and throughout the riding, and for me that's really exciting."
For tourism, the budget introduced plans to invest in marketing in the U.S. through increased funding to the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC).
"The CTC will re-enter the U.S. market as Barrett (Fisher, CEO of Tourism Whistler) and other Whistlerites want them to do," Weston said.
"There will also be enhanced visa processing for visitors from Mexico and three other countries... Mexico has traditionally been a source of high-value visitors for Whistler."
Weston worked with tourism leaders in B.C. on a group called the BC Tourism Roundtable, which produced a report titled Tourism in Canada — Seizing Economic Advantage last February.
Two of four recommendations laid out in the report were adopted in this year's budget.
"This is again something that arises in part directly from work we have done in our riding," Weston said.
Also in the budget is an additional $10 million per year over three years to extend the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, as well as $2 million for the Pacific Salmon Foundation in support of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.
"I advocated for them with the B.C. caucus, with the fisheries minister and then the finance minister, and they deserve the credit," Weston said.
"This is an organization that had raised $8 million through foundations in the private sector, so they showed the credibility of their project, working on something that matters to the people of Whistler and everyone in B.C."
The $2 million will be used to investigate the factors affecting the survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Salish Sea.
For seniors, the budget reduced the minimum amount required for withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds — another budget item that was the result of the work of constituents, Weston said.
"Here we have the result of a lot of work, but people with a vision," he said. "They persevered, they got something in the budget that would never have been there had they never started."
Other items in the budget will benefit small businesses, including reducing the small business corporate tax from 11 to nine per cent over the next four years.
"(This) is the biggest tax cut for small businesses in 25 years," Weston said. "We know that small businesses are responsible for the lion's share of job creation in the country."
The budget also contained support for Canadian athletes.
Starting in 2016-17, the Government of Canada will match up to $20 million over four years of private sector investment to support the next generation of athletes who are five to eight years away from competing at the Olympic or Paralympic Games.
The full budget document can be viewed online at www.budget.gc.ca.
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