MLAs battle over family budgets

Medical premiums up four per cent, BC Hydro rates up nine per cent as of April 1

Premier Christy Clark listens as Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the 2014-15 budget in the B.C. legislature Tuesday.

Premier Christy Clark listens as Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the 2014-15 budget in the B.C. legislature Tuesday.

VICTORIA – Opposition politicians called out Premier Christy Clark Thursday on her assurances that the province’s budget would not be balanced by asking more from taxpayers.

“Look, it’s the premier herself who yesterday said she would not be going out to taxpayers and asking them for more money,” NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth told the legislature.

He estimated fee increases of $900 a year for thousands of B.C. families, including a sixth consecutive increase in Medical Services Plan fees.

“They’re going to be paying more for MSP. They’re going to pay more for hydro. They’re going to pay more for ferry trips,” Farnworth said. “They’re going to pay more for car insurance, and if they live south of the Fraser, they’re definitely going to be paying more in tolls.”

Finance Minister Mike de Jong replied that the four per cent increase in MSP fees is the latest of a series signalled in the last three B.C. budgets. Premiums, many paid by employers, account for 12 per cent of a health care budget that has grown from $8 billion to $17 billion since 2001, de Jong said.

MSP premiums increase by up to $5.50 a month for families earning more than $30,000 a year,  effective with the start of a new fiscal year April 1. On the same date, a nine per cent increase in BC Hydro rates takes effect, adding $8 a month to the average residential electricity bill.

De Jong cited assistance for families in the 2014-15 budget, including a $1,200 payment into a Registered Education Savings Plan for children born in 2007 or later. A tax credit of up to $55 a month for children under age six is to take effect in 2015.

The biggest priority for new program spending in this week’s budget is an extra $243 million over three years for Community Living B.C. for services to developmentally disabled adults. Another $15 million is allocate to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for special needs children.

An extra $15 million over three years is directed to RCMP policing costs and $6 million is allocated for legal aid services.

The budget also directs $29 million to support development of a liquefied natural gas industry in B.C., including attracting investment and providing permits and environmental protection.

 

Just Posted

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Gord with a mom and her young son outside Pathways which was defunded on May 31. (Facebook)
Gord Portman with a mom and her child outside of Pathways. The sign says it all about the difference Pathways has made in people’s lives. They were defunded by Interior Health on May 31.
Penticton man takes the plunge for the recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read