It could be as early as this month when Northwesterners get a better idea of where the province stands on the proposal put forth by the Resource Benefits Alliance.
Skeena MLA Ellis Ross pushed the matter in question period with Finance Minister Carole James Oct. 24. Ross asked for clarity on the government’s level of commitment to negotiations after a vague letter sent to RBA members in September failed to offer assurances, and was followed later by what Ross called a photo op with Premier John Horgan who talked about a re-commitment to the RBA.
“I’m just trying to get a sense of the timeline on when the government will sit down and talk about the RBA, even if it’s just preliminary, in terms of when they can expect some real numbers and some real issues put on paper,” Ross said.
Minister James reminded the MLA the RBA’s report was received by the government Oct. 17 and that staff will need time to work on it properly. Although not in last September’s budget, it will be considered for February’s.
“I expect that sometime in November they’ll get a response back,” James said.
“We’ve had good discussions about their proposal.”
During the premier’s visit to Rio Tinto on Oct. 21, Black Press asked the premier where he felt the RBA proposal was positioned in terms of budget priorities.
The premier said discussions with the RBA so far have been “comprehensive.”
“We’re committed to making sure we can try and duplicate the Fair Share program in the Peace country, on the basis of trust that exists in the Kootenays,” Horgan said.
“We can have something similar here and in the north west. That’s gonna take a little bit of time – we have some opportunities on the horizon. Our Minister of Finance Carol James is working on that. That is a commitment we made to the mayors and that will be followed through.”
The RBA consists of 18 communities and three regional districts seeking a share of government revenue from future resource developments. They say it will help transform a “have-not region” into one reaching its full potential.