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

SOWK MP unsurprised by Scheer resignation

“It’s a very tough job being a leader of a party, and we thanked him for that service,” - MP Cannings

Promoter fundraises for new Kootenay Country Music Fest

UPDATED: Travis Pangburn has de-activated the $150,000 Gofundme campaign

Kaslo commits to 100 per cent renewable energy plan

Nine local governments have made the pledge this year

Storm prompts travel warning for Boundary, West Kootenay

Up to 25 cm expected on high mountain passes

RED Mountain resort delays opening day

Lack of snow puts damper on start of season

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Most Read