Provincial Budget Highlights

Finance Minister Carole James introduced the 2019 Budget and Fiscal Plan in the legislature today. New spending commitments by the Government feature the B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit (to be introduced in 2020), reconciliation with First Nations and the implementation of CleanBC, the province’s climate change strategy.

Budget elements of interest to local government include the following:

General

  • Estimated budget surplus of $274 million for 2019/20, $287 for 2020/21 and $585 million for 20121/22.
  • Taxpayer supported debt to GDP ratio for 2019/20 will be 15%.

Revenue

  • Revenue from the property tax is forecast to increase by 4.2% over the next two years.
  • Employer health tax revenue is projected to rise from $0.5 billion in 2018/19 to $1.9 billion in 2019/20 reflecting the full year effect of the January 1, 2019 effective date. Over the next two years, revenue growth is expected to average 4.0% annually consistent with employee compensation income growth.

Expansion of Public Service

  • Full time staff equivalents in core ministries are projected to increase by 600 (from 30,750 to 31,350) in 2019/20. 

Cannabis Excise Tax

  • The Province will receive its first transfer of the federal excise tax from the Government of Canada on March 1, 2019. Budget 2019 does not provide an estimate of federal transfers to the Province for 2019/20.

Childcare and Support for Parents

  • An additional $9 million will be provided for childcare fee reduction.
  • $400 million has been committed to introduce a new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit starting in 2020 that will replace the Early Childhood Tax benefit.  

Mental Health, Addictions and Opioid Response

  • $30 million in new funding will be provided over three years to increase efforts to respond to opioid overdose emergencies.
  • $74 million will be provided over three years to enhance mental health and addictions services for children, youth and young adults including funding ‘one stop shop’ centres that provide full support services.

Housing

  • An additional $24 million in operating funding will be provided over three years.
  • An additional 200 modular units for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness will be built.
  • A province wide homelessness count will be undertaken.
  • A provincial homelessness coordination unit will be established.
  • The Province will accelerate the payment of $38 million in grants to housing providers to reduce ongoing borrowing costs for developers.

Environment

The Province will commit $902 million overall to implement CleanBC, including:

  • $90 million to encourage the adoption of zero emission vehicles (including $42 million to maintain point of sale incentives and $20 million for fast charging and hydrogen fueling stations).
  • $3 million to develop and implement a Zero Emission Vehicle standard to require an escalating annual percentage of new light duty zero emission sales, reaching 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
  • $5 million over thee years for battery charging stations at highway rest areas owned by the province to encourage longer range travel in cleaner vehicles.
  • $6 million over three years for active transportation projects.
  • $58 million to make homes and buildings more energy efficient.
  • $15 million for the Remote Community Clean Energy Strategy.
  • $3 million for the Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative.
  • $1 million over three years to develop a program increase organic waste diversion.
  • $168 million over three years to support large industrial organizations reduce GHG emissions.
  • $299 million in contingency funding to provide new incentives and programs

Professional Governance of Natural Resource Professionals

  • $2 million over three years to create the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance for professional governance oversight of natural resource professionals.

Environmental Assessment

  • $9 million for implementing the revitalized Environmental Assessment Act to support early engagement, assessments, compliance and enforcement.

Wildfire Resiliency and Management  

  • $60 million will be provided to the Community Resiliency Investment Program to reduce wildfire risk for 2018/19.
  • $111 million will be provided over three years to increase wildfire response and control capacity.

Community Economic Development

Mining

  • $20 million will be provided over three years to improve mining permitting and create an independent oversight unit.

Taxi Modernization and Ride Hailing

  • $9 million over three years to implement the Government’s commitments to modernize the taxi industry and introduce ride hailing.

Coast Forest Revitalization

  • $10 million over three years for the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative. Funding will support the objective of diversifying forest tenures and manufacturing, increasing domestic timber processing, and consultation with Indigenous Governments, industry committees and other stakeholders.

First Nations and Reconciliation

  • Gaming revenue sharing of $297 million over three years; projected to provide $3 billion over the next 25 years.
  • Forthcoming legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Infrastructure

Resort Municipality Initiative

  • $39 million over three years to fund infrastructure projects.

Accessible Transit

  • $21 million over three years to improve public transit, including HandyDart, in 30 BC communities.

Northern Capital and Planning Grant

Government will provide $100 million in 2018/19 to 26 local governments along the LNG corridor and near Kitimat to help meet infrastructure needs.

 

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