MLAs battle over family budgets

Medical premiums up four per cent, BC Hydro rates up nine per cent as of April 1

Premier Christy Clark listens as Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the 2014-15 budget in the B.C. legislature Tuesday.

VICTORIA – Opposition politicians called out Premier Christy Clark Thursday on her assurances that the province’s budget would not be balanced by asking more from taxpayers.

“Look, it’s the premier herself who yesterday said she would not be going out to taxpayers and asking them for more money,” NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth told the legislature.

He estimated fee increases of $900 a year for thousands of B.C. families, including a sixth consecutive increase in Medical Services Plan fees.

“They’re going to be paying more for MSP. They’re going to pay more for hydro. They’re going to pay more for ferry trips,” Farnworth said. “They’re going to pay more for car insurance, and if they live south of the Fraser, they’re definitely going to be paying more in tolls.”

Finance Minister Mike de Jong replied that the four per cent increase in MSP fees is the latest of a series signalled in the last three B.C. budgets. Premiums, many paid by employers, account for 12 per cent of a health care budget that has grown from $8 billion to $17 billion since 2001, de Jong said.

MSP premiums increase by up to $5.50 a month for families earning more than $30,000 a year,  effective with the start of a new fiscal year April 1. On the same date, a nine per cent increase in BC Hydro rates takes effect, adding $8 a month to the average residential electricity bill.

De Jong cited assistance for families in the 2014-15 budget, including a $1,200 payment into a Registered Education Savings Plan for children born in 2007 or later. A tax credit of up to $55 a month for children under age six is to take effect in 2015.

The biggest priority for new program spending in this week’s budget is an extra $243 million over three years for Community Living B.C. for services to developmentally disabled adults. Another $15 million is allocate to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for special needs children.

An extra $15 million over three years is directed to RCMP policing costs and $6 million is allocated for legal aid services.

The budget also directs $29 million to support development of a liquefied natural gas industry in B.C., including attracting investment and providing permits and environmental protection.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Highway 3A reopened after mudslide cleared

A mudslide closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam on Wednesday.

Rossland couple caught in Kootenay Pass avalanche

“The snow was fast, you couldn’t outrun it.”

VIDEO: Rossland elders take second annual trip up Grey and Granite

That trip was organized by Ritchie Mann, who Greene “blamed” for the entire adventure.

Black Jack building a new trail at biathlon area

The Black Jack Ski Club will be building a new recreational trail at the Hanna Creek Biathlon Area.

Couple charged in Fruitvale incident plead not guilty

A couple charged in an incident that started in Fruitvale on Tuesday, April 3 pleaded not guilty.

VIDEO: Moose found licking salt off B.C. man’s pickup truck

Tab Baker was in his garage in Prince George when the small moose gave his truck a clean

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Most Read