Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the current budget in February 2014. He has promised another surplus forecast for the next one.

Relief coming for rich, poor in B.C. budget

Tax hike for incomes over $150,000 ends, Finance Minister Mike de Jong looks at ending child support payment clawback

B.C. will likely be the only province in Canada to report a balanced budget for the current year and project surpluses for the next three years, Finance Minister Mike de Jong says.

In a briefing for reporters on what to expect when the annual budget is presented Feb. 17, de Jong said the surplus for the current year will be larger than the $444 million forecast in November. Corporate and personal income tax has been stronger than expected, but there is no certainty that will continue into the new fiscal year that begins April 1.

The second straight surplus after billions in deficits the previous four years will be used to pay down debt, but there is some room for helping poorer people, de Jong said. He hinted that this may include a change to the long-standing practice of deducting spousal child support payments from social assistance and disability payments to single parents.

“There are some areas where we believe there have been pressures on the programming side,” de Jong said. “We have a little more ability to deal with them and relieve some of that pressure, to assist people in greatest need.”

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said he is hopeful the child support clawback policy will be changed after more than a year of protest by the opposition. And he said the government isn’t telling the whole story about balancing the budget using “tax increases by another name.

“You’re going to see higher Medical Services Plan premiums, higher ICBC rates, we’re already seeing higher fees for camping,” Farnworth said.

The next budget will also provide tax relief for the wealthiest B.C. residents, as a two-year increase on incomes more than $150,000 a year comes to an end. De Jong imposed the 2.1 per cent hike in his pre-election budget in 2013, after then-NDP leader Adrian Dix promised a similar move to help balance the books.

The recent plunge in oil prices has had a major impact on revenues to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, but B.C. has largely escaped that due to continued gas production but little oil from B.C. petroleum fields.

De Jong emphasized that with the continued glut of shale gas produced across North America, it remains an urgent priority to develop liquefied natural gas exports to Asia before B.C. revenues fall further for lack of sales.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City councillors decide not to waive business license fines in Rossland for 2020

Instead, the city will try to issue business license refunds for business struggling financially due to COVID-19

Castlegar wedding shows love conquers all

Brandon Melanson and Kimberly Patricia Melanson were married at Millennium Park last week.

Selkirk College starts COVID-19 emergency fund for students

The college has set aside up to $30,000 in matching funds for donations

New multi-use trail network coming to Red Mountain in Rossland

Kootenay Columbia Trails Society will help to build 5.8 kilometres worth of trails this summer

FortisBC offers 90-day bill deferrals to customers impacted by COVID-19

Customers can apply for the relief program through the utility’s website

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

B.C. sorting medical equipment sales, donation offers for COVID-19

Supply hub has call out for masks, gowns, coronavirus swabs

B.C. records five more deaths due to COVID-19, 45 new cases

A total of 838 people have recovered from the virus

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read