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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

April 6: Thousands apply for emergency response benefit on opening day of program

Delta companies asked to contribute through B.C.’s new COVID-19 supply hub

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

Two people fined for trying to re-sell N95 and surgical masks in Delta

Police confiscated over 5,000 masks and are working with Fraser Health to see them put to good use

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Bars, cannabis sector eligible for $40B credit program from government bank

Applicants must go through their own banks to access the program

Immunocompromised community call for more options to get groceries during COVID-19

One woman has decided to build a greenhouse to ensure she is able to access food throughout pandemic

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Most Read