VICTORIA – Last week – seven months after being sworn in – Finance Minister Carole James delivered the first full budget that puts people first after 16 long years of BC Liberal neglect.
In just seven months, Premier John Horgan and the B.C. New Democrat government have done more for British Columbians than the B.C. Liberals could do in 16 years. Here’s a quick look:
After years of neglect, British Columbians finally have a budget that puts them first. Here are just three key highlights:
- This includes our commitment to the largest housing investment in the history of our province, building almost 34,000 units across the province – units of mixed-income social housing, new beds for students at colleges and universities, and units dedicated for people who are homeless.
- We have introduced measures to address the effects of speculation in the real estate markets.
- Budget 2018 also offers the largest investment in child care in B.C. history with a $1-billion child care investment over three years to lower costs for parents, increase the number of child care spaces, and make sure that those spaces meet quality care standards. As many as 86,000 British Columbians will be eligible for an affordable child care benefit, which will provide up to $1,250 per month to reduce child care fees.
- MSP fees have been cut in half this year, and will be eliminated altogether by Jan. 1, 2020, saving families up to $1800 a year.
Along with the steps taken in the budget, the B.C. New Democrat government have also taken bold action for affordability, good jobs across the province, better services for people, and a better B.C.
- Giving B.C. workers a $15-an-hour minimum wage by June 2021.
- Working to make ICBC work for you again after years of BC Liberal neglect, while keeping rates affordable for B.C. drivers.
- We have already identified over $60 million in potential savings.
- Closed the fixed term lease loophole, protecting tenants from unfair rate hikes.
- Eliminated the unfair tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges.
- Purchased the Waneta Dam through BC Hydro to keep rates low
- Reached an agreement with AirBnB to provide revenues to address housing affordability and improve tax fairness for all British Columbians.
- Newly-formed Poverty Reduction Advisory Forum is listening to people across B.C. who are working to eliminate poverty
- Raised income assistance and disability rates by $100 per month
- Increased earnings exemptions for people on income and disability assistance by $200 a month
- Removed roadblocks to Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning
- Announced an investment in adult literacy programs in the Prince George, Burnaby, Okanagan and Columbia Shuswap, central Interior, the Northwest and Surrey as part of its commitment to connect British Columbians with the education and training they need to thrive and succeed.
- Created a new transportation supplement for persons with disabilities that can be used for the renewed B.C. Disability Bus Pass Program or for other transportation needs.
- Gave post-secondary education tuition-waivers for youth aging out of the foster care system.
Good Jobs Across the Province
- Secured 1000 new good-paying tech jobs Amazon’s plans to double the size of its professional workforce in British Columbia.
- Supporting job creators like Fortinet, which announced an expansion in Burnaby with 1000 new tech jobs.
- Sent B.C.’s first innovation commissioner to champion B.C.’s tech sector in Ottawa.
- Launched the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council to help B.C. meet climate goals and grow economy with good sustainable jobs.
- Funded 2900 new tech seats across the province.
- Strengthened relationships and expanded economic ties with China, South Korea and Japan, three of B.C.’s largest trading partners.
- Provided funding in Metro Vancouver land-matching project that connects new farmers to farmland.
- Kept the commitment to fight for B.C. forestry jobs in the U.S and to advance B.C.’s interests in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute.
- Supported job creators by cutting the small business tax rate by 20 per cent.
- Restored the tax benefit and lifted the cap on lending for credit unions
- Brought back the Buy B.C. Program to build opportunities and sales for B.C. food producers, and those wishing to join the sector.
Better Services for People
- Our September budget update included a record $14.6 billion in capital investments over three years, building the schools, hospitals, roads, and transit people depend on.
- Earned an ‘A’ grade from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for improved services and regulations.
- Announced the replacement of the Patullo Bridge.
- Announced that new moveable barrier system that will be installed on the Alex Fraser Bridge to relieve congestion.
- Planning for a new hospital in Surrey that would offer improved care for families.
- Announced the building of a new hospital for people in Terrace.
- Broke ground on a new state-of-the-art mental health and addictions centre on the Riverview lands.
- Brought new or improved high-speed internet to 154 rural and remote communities in partnership with the federal government.
- Created a stand-alone Ministry for Mental Health and Addictions to take province-wide action to stem the overdose emergency, and help people living with mental illness and addictions.
- Providing universal, no-cost coverage for the drug Mifegymiso, an alternative to surgical abortion.
- Funded Community Action Teams (CAT) to provide on-the-ground support in response to the overdose crisis.
- Supported communities and business affected by wildfires with $100 million for recovery and $140 million for risk reduction, reforestation, habitat restoration, and the FireSmart program.
- Fast-tracked the process to give students safer schools across the province, including Delta, Maple Ridge, Vancouver, Victoria, Richmond, Surrey, Saanich, North Vancouver, and Coquitlam.
- Expanded access to recycling services in waitlisted communities by approving a stewardship plan for the newspaper sector.
- Provided a boost to rural economies through the rural dividend program.
- Invested in our tourism sector with a $10.5 million investment in improved infrastructure.
- Increased funding for the Residential Tenancy Branch by $7 million over three years and launched a new online application to file for dispute resolution making it easier and faster for B.C. tenants and landlords to resolve tenancy issues.
- Shortlisted three proponent teams for the building of new law courts in Abbotsford to keep pace with growth in the lower Fraser Valley.
- Announced a new review of the Hullcar Aquifer to ensure agricultural practices are consistent with ensuring safe drinking water.
- Launched a review of the Province’s professional reliance model to ensure the highest professional, technical and ethical standards are being applied to resource management in BC.
- Hired an expert to consult with stakeholders and find a made-in-B.C. solution to ride-hailing.
- Received a multi-partisan committee report on recommendations to assist in finding a made-in-B.C. solution to ride-hailing.
- Modernizing B.C.’s democracy:
- Passed legislation to hold a referendum to give people the power to change our current voting system to a system of proportional representation.
- Legislation introduced to amend the Constitution Act to reduce the number of seats required for recognized political party status from four to two.
- Changed the fixed date election to a Saturday in October.
- Strengthen the institutional stability of government in the event, for example, of a natural disaster.
- Introduced legislation to toughen the rules around political lobbying.
- Made implementing TRC Calls to Action and UNDRIP a cross-government priority in ministers’ mandate letters.
- Banned big money provincially and municipally from B.C. politics.
- Taking action to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic consequence of a diluted bitumen spill.
- Defended B.C.’s interests against the threat of increased tanker traffic by participating in Federal Court of Appeal hearings on the federal government’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline.
- Worked with global leaders on ways to cut carbon pollution while growing a sustainable economy at the United nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.
- Moved Family Day to the third week in February so families across the country can celebrate together.
- Appointed MLA Mitzi Dean to serve as Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity.
- Funding provided to 32 community organizations to equip communities to challenge racism, hate and discrimination.
- Increase in operating funding to support vulnerable women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
- Engaged 48,000 British Columbians in public and stakeholder engagement on the legalization and regulation of non-medical cannabis — one of the most engaging in B.C.’s history.
- Protecting B.C.’s Wildlife:
- Banned the Grizzly bear trophy hunt altogether.
- Banned motor vehicles for the purpose of licensed hunting and banned moose hunting in select areas impacted by wildfires.
- Doubled funding for the Surrey WRAP program to tackle gang violence and keep at-risk youth out of gangs.
- Raking action to crack down on illegal firearms to keep B.C. streets safe.
- Launched the renewal of the human rights commission.
- Increased funding by six million dollars annually for the B.C. Healthy Kids Program.
- Restored the UBC Therapeutics Initiative, keeping drug costs down and patients safe by providing funding of $2 million annually.
- Announced $6.4 million for B.C. First Nations and Métis-serving agencies to help keep Indigenous families together and improve outcomes for children and youth in care.
- Acted to reduce carbon emissions by increasing the carbon tax rate on April 1, 2018, by five dollars per tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions.
- Passed new regulations to improve spill response from pipelines, as well as rail and trucking operations transporting over 10,000 litres.