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BC Liberal government unveils fifth consecutive balanced budget, will reduce MSP rates by 50%, then eliminate

Former Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivers highlights from the 2017 Budget to media members in Victoria/Photo: Province of British Columbia
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VICTORIA, B.C. – The BC Liberal government has released the 2017 Balanced Budget and it includes funding for education, health, small businesses and other important areas.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong delivered the budget this afternoon in Victoria.

One of the most wanted changes among residents in B.C. was delivered with the government announcing that they will be reducing MSP premiums by 50%. This is the first step in entirely eliminating the Medical Services Plan.

The change will account to a savings of $900 for families that are paying full premiums and savings of $450 for individuals who are paying full premiums. The government says that 2 million residents will see their premiums cut in half.

“Changes to MSP premiums included in Budget 2017 will leave $953 million in the pockets of British Columbians.”

The Province will also be raising the income threshold below which saw households exempt form MSP by $2,000. Individuals that have a net income up to $26,000 will not have to pay premiums. Couples with two children and a family net income of $35,000 will not pay premiums.

The Province is also stepping up to help small businesses in B.C. The government says that they will be phasing out PST (provincial sales tax) on electricity as recommended by the Commission on Tax Competitiveness. The commission says that they found that eliminating the PST on business costs like electricity could help improve the economic performance in B.C.

Effective as of October 1, 2017, the tax rate on electricity will be reduced from 7% to 3.5%. Then, effective as of April 1, 2017, tax will be fully exempt from PST. The government estimates that this will help save small and medium businesses around $50 million a year.

They will also be reducing the small business corporate income tax rate to 2% from 2.5%.

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The Province is also putting money into much needed areas throughout B.C.

First, a total of $4.2 billion has been added to the Ministry of Health budget compared to the 2016-17 base budget.

  • $796 million for families, children and those in need
  • $740 million for the K-12 area which includes $320 million to help with the recent interim agreement that was reached with the BCTF
  • Over $700 million for first time homebuyers
  • $249 million for communities and economic development
  • $149 million for parks and environmental protection
  • $280 million for other programs and services

When it comes to education, the government broke down how the $740 million will be used.

  • $320 million over three years in interim funding which is pending on a final agreement with the BCTF of class size and composition
  • $228 million to fund enrolment growth over the fiscal plan period
  • $54 million to eliminate bus fees for regular students and also mitigate rural school closures
  • $29 million for supplies and resources that will help bring down costs for parents while also helping teachers in B.C. deliver the new curriculum

To view the entire budget and a breakdown of costs, visit: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2017/default.htm.

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