B.C. Premier John Horgan and Independent MLA Andrew Weaver talk before the NDP government’s throne speech, B.C. Legislature, Feb. 11, 2020. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Budget 2020: Weaver ‘delighted,’ minority B.C. NDP stable

Project spending soars along with B.C.’s capital debt

The B.C. NDP government’s latest budget carries on with its post-election program of subsidized housing, climate measures and taxes, while building up capital debt to record levels for hospital upgrades, transportation and other public works.

“The scale of change is staggering,” Finance Minister Carole James told the legislature as she presented the third full budget of the minority NDP government this week. “$18 billion worth of work is happening in all corners of the province.”

B.C. Liberal opposition critics pointed to stalled housing numbers and other signs of an economic slowdown, and tax increases including extension of provincial sales tax to streaming services. B.C.’s core natural resource revenues are also expected to remain low over three years, down by almost $1 billion from two years ago due to low lumber, coal and natural gas prices.

The budget offered little new for the forest industry, as loggers rallied outside the legislature, with a $13 million fund to pursue the government’s waste wood recovery and delivery of a $69 million package for communities that have lost sawmills.

The budget adds a new top tax bracket for high income earners, and extends the seven per cent sales tax to sweetened carbonated drinks, including sugar-free products.

RELATED: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

RELATED: ‘Sweet drinks tax’ isn’t just on sugar, diet pop hit too

RELATED: NDP taps top tax bracket again for new revenue

Former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver said he is “delighted” with the budget, including one of its few new spending measures, a grant program for post-secondary studies including diplomas and certificates under two years.

Now sitting as an independent, Weaver has pledged to continue supporting the NDP minority through the spring budget, despite his opposition to the government’s Site C dam and LNG Canada commitments.

The capital plan for three years is $7.4 billion for projects including highway projects in Delta, Langley and on the south coast of Vancouver Island, the Pattullo Bridge replacement for Surrey, the Broadway subway in Vancouver and further four-laning of the Kicking Horse Canyon.

The budget projects a $91 million deficit for the Insurance Corp. of B.C. for the current year, with small surpluses in the next two years as Attorney General David Eby moves injury claims from courts to a civil resolution tribunal that is already handling smaller disputes. ICBC lost $2.5 billion in the previous two years.

The budget projects small operating surpluses for three years, helped by personal and business income tax revenue and strong employment from projects including the Trans Mountain and Coastal Gaslink projects.

Public project spending is set to push B.C.’s capital debt to $87.6 billion by 2022, but that level “remains very manageable at 17.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, said Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Just Posted

Housing challenges in Canada complicate efforts to fight COVID-19

Five per cent of all households deemed ‘not suitable’ while other dwellers face other challenges

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

DiManno: Once again, the Queen leads while others let us down

‘Self-discipline, quiet good-humoured resolve and fellow-feeling still characterize this country’

COVID-19: Vancouver Island ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

Marcia Kent says situation is difficult but worth it to keep twin boys safe

Cowichan Mountie cleared of wrongdoing after woman’s arm broken during arrest

Police were called around 10 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2019 to remove a “severely intoxicated” woman

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

Campbell River grocery worker’s car stolen while he works

2000 Honda Civic 2 door coupe with purple mag wheels taken

B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Program to provide primary health care through COVID-19 pandemic

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Statistics Canada report looks at COVID-19’s impact on violence in the family

Police across Canada reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence in 2018

132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

Finance Minister Carole James says ‘this isn’t the entire picture’

B.C. asking companies to contribute through online COVID-19 supply hub

New platform to co-ordinate, source, expedite supplies and equipment to support front-line workers

Most Read