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.

 

Just Posted

New Glade ferry enters testing phase

The Glade II will be able to carry heavier loads and will emit less greenhouse gases.

Kootenay Boundary remains in unusually dangerous avalanche period

Avalanche Canada says it expects snowpack conditions to get better soon

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

As avalanche danger grows, BC heli-skiers exercise caution

Company relies on guides’ decades of experience

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Food industry failing at voluntary sodium reduction: Health Canada

Health Canada report shows the food industry made no meaningful progress in curtailing salt levels

Best B.C. cities to live in: millennial edition

Other local municipalities score at bottom of list from real estate blog

Solitary confinement in Canadian prisons unconstitutional: B.C. Supreme Court

Associations argued that solitary confinement was inhumane

1 in 4 B.C. consumers unable to pay bills, debt repayment: poll

Since interest rates first rose in July, poll suggests households across B.C. have had to tighten budget

SOGI rally disrupts school board meeting, but business carries on

Chilliwack school board makes statement in support of B.C.-wide gender identity teaching resource

Most Read