Published On: Wednesday, 21 February 2018
BC Budget 2018 Priortizes Childcare and Housing
VICTORIA - Budget 2018 carves a new path to shared prosperity for everyone in the province with a made-in-BC child-care plan, a comprehensive housing plan, and, record levels of capital investment in every corner of the province, according to Finance Minister Carole James.
- Over three years, an investment of more than $1 billion will set the province on the path to a universal child-care plan that will make child care affordable for parents and caregivers, create more than 22,000 child-care spaces throughout the province, and ensure those spaces meet rigorous quality and safety standards; and
- A housing plan that invests more than $1.6 billion over three years to build and maintain affordable rental housing, help finance student housing, increase rental assistance for low-income seniors/working families, and provide supportive housing for at-risk individuals. To stabilize housing prices, new taxation measures tackle foreign and domestic speculation, close loopholes, and crack down on tax fraud.
Building on the Province’s progress to date, Budget 2018 also:
- Introduces a new affordable child-care benefit that will reduce child-care costs by up to $1,250 per month for every child and support 86,000 BC families per year by 2020-21;
- Provides up to $350 per month directly to licenced child-care providers to reduce fees for an estimated 50,000 families per year by 2020-21;
- Curbs speculation in BC’s housing market and helps to build 114,000 affordable rental, non-profit, co-op and owner-purchase housing units through partnerships;
- Eliminates Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums by Jan. 1, 2020, saving individuals up to $900 a year, and families up to $1,800 a year;
- Freezes fares on all major BC Ferries routes, reducing fares on non-major routes, and fully restoring the Monday to Thursday seniors passenger fare discount;
- Eliminates BC’s Fair PharmaCare deductibles for families with annual net incomes below $30,000, starting Jan. 1, 2019; and
- Reinstating free bus passes and other options to help more than 100,000 people receiving disability assistance access transportation.
More money will go to priority services, including:
- Funding of $548 million over three years to improve care for seniors and $150 million to help connect those who do not have a family doctor with team-based primary care;
- Hiring more teachers, bringing the total to over 3,700 new hires around the province, to support students and meet the need for qualified teachers in B.C.;
- Making a historic investment of $50 million this fiscal year to support the revitalization and preservation of Indigenous languages in BC;
- Dedicating $18 million to services that provide outreach and counselling support for women and children affected by violence; and
- Improving access to justice through increased funding for legal aid, family law services, and the hiring of more sheriffs and court staff to help reduce court delays.
Budget 2018 invests in a strong, sustainable economy through BC’s greatest resource, its people, by:
- Supporting communities hit the hardest by the 2017 wildfire season and investing in wildfire preparedness to protect people, communities and wildlife;
- Increasing funding for BC’s agrifood sector to support enhanced Buy BC, Grow BC and Feed BC initiatives to drive consumer demand and get BC’s goods to overseas markets;
- Confirming the removal of fees for Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning to give people opportunities to grow and succeed;
- Partnering with industry, the Federal Government and First Nations communities to support Indigenous skills training programs with $30 million over three years;
- Increasing grants administered through the BC Arts Council and Creative BC, which support BC’s vibrant communities and creative economy.
- Expanding BC’s Tuition Waiver Program and increasing financial support for former youth in care while they attend post-secondary school or training programs.
Budget 2018 commitments are being funded by improved revenue forecasts over the fiscal plan period, as well as new revenue sources, including:
- 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; and
- An employer health tax to allow for the full elimination of MSP premiums.