VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

B.C. budget 2018 focuses on housing, childcare, MSP

WATCH: Here's what you need to know about today's provincial budget.
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Posted by BCLocalNews.com on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

In its first provincial budget in 16 years, the B.C. NDP is focusing on childcare spaces, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of Medical Services Plan premiums.

New spaces a step to universal childcare

The 2018 B.C. budget is touting a “made-in-BC” child care plan, with an investment of more than $1 billion to put the province on the path to universal childcare with more than 24,000 spaces over the next three years.

A new affordable childcare benefit will reduce costs by up to $1,250 per month for every child and provide up to $350 per month directly to licenced childcare providers to reduce fees for an estimated 50,000 families. Read more >

Payroll tax to replace MSP premiums

The province will phase out Medical Services Plan premiums a year earlier than promised in the last election, set to be nixed on Jan. 1, 2020.

Instead, a new “employer health tax” will take effect Jan. 1, 2019, and will apply to businesses with annual payrolls of more than $500,000 – some of which now pay MSP premiums on behalf of their employees. Read more >

Freezing ferry fares

Reduction and price freezes are taking effect on BC Ferries routes.

Fare will remain unchanged on all major routes, and will be reduced on non-major routes. Monday-to-Thursday seniors’ fare discount will also be reinstated. Read more >

Foreign buyers’ tax extended, speculation tax added

Finance Minister Carol James introduced a much-anticipated housing speculation tax, to be put into place by the fall. The tax will start at 0.5 per cent and rise to two per cent this year, as promised during the campaign.

It’s estimated to bring in $87 million in its first year, $13 million shy of the $100 million promised during the election.

Meanwhile, the foreign buyers’ tax will be extended to other hotspots in the province including the Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Vancouver Island, and go up from 15 per cent to 20. Read more >

Historic funding for purpose-built rentals

The 2018 budget rolled out $1.6 billion for affordable housing over three years as part the province’s previously announced $6-billion commitment to build 114,000 units over the next decade.

Over those next three years, $378 million will build 14,000 homes for “the missing middle,” or the skilled workers that James said are choosing other places to work because of the cost of housing in B.C. Read more >

Millions earmarked for wildfire recovery

To prepare for what could be another devastating wildfire season, the latest budget sets aside $72 million for animal recovery programs and fire prevention efforts.

It also includes $5 million for BC Parks to create 1,900 new campsites across the province. Read more >

Reinstating free disability bus passes

The NDP are fulfilling an election promise to reinstate free bus passes, expected to affect 100,000 people receiving disability assistance.

$548 million for seniors’ care

Half a billion dollars over three years will go toward improving conditions in senior care homes, most of which do not meet the province’s standard of daily care hours per patient.

B.C.’s regional health authorities have been told they will be funded to upgrade part-time care aide positions to full time in the fiscal year starting April 1.

Indigenous skills training gets boost

Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the provincial Indigenous skills program will get $201 million over three years.

About $50 million will also provide programs to revitalize Indigenous languages.

Funding to hire more sherriffs, court staff

Multi-year court delays could be on the verge of shrinking as the government pledges $15 million to hire more sheriffs and administration staff in the 2018 budget.

The province has struggled with a sheriff shortage for years and the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union said that between 2012 and 2016, at least 20 sheriffs left for higher-paid jobs. Read more >

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