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B.C. election budget boosts family benefits as deficit soars to $7.9 B

BC deficit soars to $7.9 B

Families and small businesses in British Columbia will benefit from an election-year budget that boosts spending, while forecasting a ballooning deficit of $7.9 billion and economic growth that falls below one per cent.

The budget delivered by Finance Minister Katrine Conroy also includes a flipping tax on housing to deter short-term market speculators.

Conroy says B.C. is an economic leader in Canada but a slowing economy and increasing housing and grocery costs mean people are stretched and need help.

She says the budget includes a one-year boost to the B.C. Family Benefit giving eligible low-and-middle-income families an extra $445 over a year on average, as well as a one-time electricity credit saving households an average of $100.

Conroy says increasing the payroll threshold for the Employer Health Tax means an estimated 90 per cent of businesses will now be exempt.

She also says one cycle of free in-vitro fertilization will be provided to anyone who wants to start a family, regardless of income, “who they love, or whether they have a partner.”

Here are some highlights of the budget:

THE DEFICIT

The 2024/2025 deficit is projected to rise to $7.9 billion, up from $5.9 billion in the updated 2023/2024 forecast.

SPENDING

Taxpayer-funded three-year capital spending almost doubles compared to the past three years, increasing to $43.3 billion, with big outlays on school, health and transport infrastructure.

COST OF LIVING

Families with children get a one-year 25 per cent bonus to their BC Family Benefit. On average, families get $445 more over the year. The measure, which starts in July, will cost $248 million and benefit 340,000 families, with 66,000 to get the benefit for the first time.

A one-time electricity credit will save households an average of $100 over a year, with the credit appearing first on the April bill.

Small and growing businesses benefit from an increase in the health tax payroll threshold.

HOUSING

A flipping tax will be introduced next year, targeting speculators who the province says are driving up housing costs. Profits will be taxed if a home is resold within two years of purchase. Revenue will go to homebuilding.

HEALTH AND SERVICES

From next year, a single cycle of free in-vitro fertilization treatment will be available to people, regardless of income, “who they love, or whether they have a partner,” says Finance Minister Katrine Conroy.

The budget earmarks $8 billion over three years to boost health, education, justice and public safety.

CLIMATE

Some $405 million will be spent over four years to better protect communities against climate emergencies.



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