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

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Most long-weekend rain has already fallen

A mix of sun and cloud is expected for the last two days of the the Victoria Day weekend.

Update: Mother dead, youth in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Sandy Point Campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Penticton Indian Band councillor trying for federal seat

Joan Phillip acclaimed as NDP candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Former Greyhound bus drivers gather in the Okanagan for one last hurrah

Bash kicks off Friday in Penticton and runs until Sunday

Some South Okanagan students are $1,000 richer

Million Dollar Bursary Program offers bursaries each year to Interior Savings’ young members

Weather holds up for Rutland May Days

60th annual May Day midway, market and entertainment saw hundreds of attendees

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

South Okanagan runners take top spots in Peach City RunFest

Both the top male and female half-marathon winners were from Penticton

Former Greyhound Canada employees gather in Okanagan to say a final farewell

“Greyhound may take our jobs but they will never take our friendships,” says former bus driver

Kelowna firefighters douse blaze in hedges

The cause of the fire on Renfrew Road is under investigation.

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

Okanagan Springtime Regatta draws more than 50 sailboats

Sailors treated to windy, excellent long weekend conditions on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read