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

RCMP ask for help finding missing motorcyclist on Vancouver Island

Gordon Oper hasn’t been in touch with his family since early this week

Canadian police to make home visits to enforce mandatory quarantine for travellers

Police forces have been asked to help verify Canadians are complying with the Quarantine Act

Those with no family doctor during COVID-19 crisis can call 811

811 is a health information phone line operated by the Ministry of Health

Duncan woman safe at home after struggle to leave Uganda

Flights hard to come by during COVID-19 pandemic

Lake Flashback: Weir opens, vandalism committee established, coroner’s inquest

1980: Youbou mill maintenance man’s death deemed an accident

VIDEO: Easter festivities may be scaled back, but it can still be a fun holiday

COVID-19 circumstances have dictated that the holidays may not be perfect

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

B.C. jails grant early release for close to 100 inmates due to COVID-19

The move, which impacts offenders serving intermittent sentences, is to prevent spread of virus

COVID-19 world update: U.S. to start antibody tests; drones enforce lockdown in Italy

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news from around the world

Lower Mainland hunting store sees 200% increase in firearm sales

Co-owner of Wanstalls says increase due to a variety of reasons

People needing addiction services feeling ‘abandoned’ during pandemic

The province is trying to increase access to addiction care through a phone line of experts, doctors

COVID-19: B.C. ER nurse self-isolates in travel trailer, apart from family

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

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

VIDEO: Community rallies around Campbell River fire victims

Emergency Social Services volunteers logged over 100 hours in first day after fire

Most Read