Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the current budget in February 2014. He has promised another surplus forecast for the next one.

Relief coming for rich, poor in B.C. budget

Tax hike for incomes over $150,000 ends, Finance Minister Mike de Jong looks at ending child support payment clawback

B.C. will likely be the only province in Canada to report a balanced budget for the current year and project surpluses for the next three years, Finance Minister Mike de Jong says.

In a briefing for reporters on what to expect when the annual budget is presented Feb. 17, de Jong said the surplus for the current year will be larger than the $444 million forecast in November. Corporate and personal income tax has been stronger than expected, but there is no certainty that will continue into the new fiscal year that begins April 1.

The second straight surplus after billions in deficits the previous four years will be used to pay down debt, but there is some room for helping poorer people, de Jong said. He hinted that this may include a change to the long-standing practice of deducting spousal child support payments from social assistance and disability payments to single parents.

“There are some areas where we believe there have been pressures on the programming side,” de Jong said. “We have a little more ability to deal with them and relieve some of that pressure, to assist people in greatest need.”

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said he is hopeful the child support clawback policy will be changed after more than a year of protest by the opposition. And he said the government isn’t telling the whole story about balancing the budget using “tax increases by another name.

“You’re going to see higher Medical Services Plan premiums, higher ICBC rates, we’re already seeing higher fees for camping,” Farnworth said.

The next budget will also provide tax relief for the wealthiest B.C. residents, as a two-year increase on incomes more than $150,000 a year comes to an end. De Jong imposed the 2.1 per cent hike in his pre-election budget in 2013, after then-NDP leader Adrian Dix promised a similar move to help balance the books.

The recent plunge in oil prices has had a major impact on revenues to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, but B.C. has largely escaped that due to continued gas production but little oil from B.C. petroleum fields.

De Jong emphasized that with the continued glut of shale gas produced across North America, it remains an urgent priority to develop liquefied natural gas exports to Asia before B.C. revenues fall further for lack of sales.

 

Just Posted

Video: Update one man arrested in Okanagan Falls

The RCMP has requested the school go into lockdown

Okanagan’s first Christmas was cold and bleak

Father Pandosy and his crew likely spent their first Christmas cold and hungry

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15-to-19 year-olds, including one in Coldstream

Holiday Train rolls through the Shuswap

Hundreds of people have gathered in Sicamous, Canoe and Salmon Arm for… Continue reading

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Most Read