Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

10 things to know about the BC budget

10 things to know about the BC budget 10 things to know about the BC budget
Nellie Chapman | 21 February, 2018, 13:03

A speculation tax, and increases in the foreign buyers' tax, to address housing affordability in B.C.by reducing foreign demand, and curbing speculation in the residential property market.

The provincial government had already announced it was cutting medical service plan premiums in half on January 1, 2018, and in the provincial budget it took the next step to eliminate them.

Ms. James said she is hopeful that housing prices will come down, so that more people can get into the market.

This will be the NDP's first full budget in 17 years and James acknowledged that it's always a challenge meeting high expectations.

The elimination of MSP Fees for all British Columbians (as previously announced), with the addition of the new Employers Tax Act which will place the associated burden on Employers.

In the 2018 tax year, the rate will be $5 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Businesses with a payroll between $500,000 and $1.5 million will pay a reduced rate.

To cover the loss of revenue, the government will introduce a new payroll tax on January 1, 2019.

The chamber says that while provincial budget "reflects a social agenda with meaningful investments in both housing attainability and childcare - two areas of deep interest to the B.C. Chamber network - it leaves the business community to pick up a $1.92- billion tab on MSP by fiscal year 2020".

"While this tax may not impact the coffee shop around the corner, it will impact many businesses within British Columbia", said Lori Mathison, the organization's president and CEO. There is no mention, however, of another NDP campaign promise to bring in a $400 annual renters' tax rebate.

British Columbia's finance minister shelved the tradition of buying new shoes to present her budget in favour of reading a story Monday to a group of three- and four-year-old youngsters at a Victoria child care centre. Some additional funds are welcome, but the five million per year promised to Legal Services Society for legal services, only some of which will be targeted to family law, and additional funding for dispute resolution fall far short of the need for legal representation. It will start in September, replacing current subsidies, and the province says up to 86,000 families will benefit. "Nurses, construction workers, teachers, engineers, city workers are building careers, growing families and contributing to our province".

The government said it's working with municipalities to develop new tools, such as rental zoning, and creating a new office to partner with non-profits and developers to build affordable homes. "It will reduce costs".

Changes to Fair PharmaCare which will eliminate deductibles and expand coverage for families earning $45,000 or less. The New Democrats have inherited a strong economy, but Ms. James said the benefits of growth left too many people behind.

"B.C.'s real estate market should not be used as a stock market".

"That's why we're cracking down on speculators who distort our market".

The foreign buyers tax jumps from 15 to 20 per cent on Wednesday and will be expanded beyond Metro Vancouver to include much of southern Vancouver Island, the Central Okanagan and the Fraser Valley. "Extending it to other communities ensures that we don't simply push the speculation to other markets".

Ms. James said the biggest concern she has for the forecast is the Insurance Corporation of B.C., the troubled Crown corporation that provides automobile insurance.

It's also unfair to penalize people from other provinces who own vacation homes in B.C., Muir added.

Thom Armstrong, executive director of the Co-op Housing Federation of B.C., said he was "thrilled" by the housing announcements.