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Hansen bought 100 pairs of runners for charity

Rather than buying himself a new pair of shoes, finance minister Colin Hansen wrote a $4,000 cheque to the Salvation Army to buy 100 pairs of running shoes for children.

“This year was not the year for me to go out and buy new shoes for myself for budget day,” said Hansen, who told reporters he used his own money for the donation. “Even though the world is going through some very difficult economic challenges, this is not a time for British Columbians to forget about the needs of charities around the province that are doing such great work.”

Major Brian Venables was on hand to represent the Salvation Army. “These are tough times and [Hansen's] gone through some very tough times himself the last few weeks, getting advice and putting together a plan,” he said. “He's shown people that despite tough times, that's a reason to get active and get involved in your community and support those out on the streets.”

The Salvation Army's donations have stayed steady in the financial downturn, he said, but the agency is seeing greater need of its services. “From communities like Prince George and Prince Rupert, right to Vancouver, there is an increase in demand of anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. In the northern communities its even greater than that.”

While researchers and policy types say B.C. has one of the worst records fighting child poverty, with the highest rate in the country for the last five years, Venables said people working in organizations like the Salvation Army see the government is doing "all that it can."

Hansen also provided some clues about tomorrow's budget. “It's about the jobs and the stimulation, but also about making sure the programs that are important to British Columbia families are maintained and supported,” he said.

There will be money for health care, education and children and families, he said. People are in need, he said. “There's going to be a lot in the budget tomorrow to help those families, but I think it's important we as individuals do our part to help.”

There will also be money for infrastructure, he said, though the details of many projects will not yet be available. “Thousands and thousands of jobs will be made available to British Columbians as quickly as we can get them out the door.”

The Liberal government will not, however, back off on the carbon tax. “I think the carbon tax is an important part of a climate action agenda,” he said. “When we talk about revenue neutral, in fact what you will see in the budget documents tomorrow is we have flowed considerably more back to British Columbians in the way of tax cuts in the last year and a half than we have collected in terms of carbon tax. It is more than revenue neutral in that respect.”

Asked about Olympic security costs, Hansen said the full provincial amount will not be in tomorrow's budget. “Tomorrow, unfortunately there will only be half that story,” he said. “You'll see part of it tomorrow. As soon as we have the agreement with the federal government finalized I'll be able to share the rest of the story with you.”

If the Liberals are re-elected in May, he said, they will bring in another updated budget in the fall.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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