The B.C. NDP’s third budget, released Tuesday, continued the provincial government’s focus on capital spending while keeping a balanced budget.
The 2020-21 financial plan includes an estimated surplus of $227 million. Meanwhile the total provincial debt is forecast to be about $70.6 billion.
Here’s a look at the top highlights from this year’s budget:
— Nina Grossman (@NinaGrossman) February 19, 2020
Record spending on infrastructure
Finance Minister Carole James unveiled a record $22.9 billion in funds to be used over the next three years on infrastructure projects. That includes an already-announced new hospital in Fort St. James, the Pattullo Bridge replacement project and widening of the Trans-Canada Highway through Kicking Horse Canyon.
ICBC ‘dumpster fire’ to be back in black
The province has pledged that ICBC will show a surplus of $86 million by end of the fiscal year – a notable turnaround from the $1 billion deficit annually in the past two years. Read more >
Taxing pop drinkers
Starting July 1, a seven per cent provincial sales tax will added to pop and other sweetened carbonated drinks. The province estimates this will generate roughly $27 million in additional tax revenue this fiscal year. Read more >
New tax for the superwealthy one per cent of income earners
Those who earn more than $220,000 – also known as the top one per cent of income earners in B.C. – will be seeing a new tax rate on their personal income statements, starting this year.
The B.C. government has announced a new rate of 20.5 per cent on taxable income for the superwealthy, up from 16.8 per cent. The tax hike, marking the second increase in three years, will bring in an additional $216 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year, the province estimates. Read more >
Forest industry gets ‘revitalization’ funding
James’ third NDP budget contains a new $13 million fund for “economic development and revitalization” of the B.C. forest sector, hard hit by reduced allowable cut in the Interior and high harvest costs that have shut down logging on much of the B.C. Coast and Vancouver Island.
The budget for forests ministry operations for the fiscal year beginning April 1 is $844 million. Read more >
More shelter beds for homeless
The province announced an extra $50 million in new funding over three years to help shelter B.C.’s homeless population, including the creation of 500 new shelter spaces.
New money for more teachers
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation will have $339 million more in funding to hire 4,200 new teachers over the next three years – but that doesn’t include more wages for existing teachers.