Finance Minister Mike de Jong has unveiled his fifth consecutive balanced budget.
Here’s what you need to know:
- MSP premiums will be slashed in half for households earning less than $120,000 a year, though not until January 2018.
- The province is promising to phase the program out completely in the long term but provided no details on how or when.
- The threshold for who is exempt from MSP premiums has also been raised to people earning $26,000 per year, or families earning $35,000.
- The province is budgeting $740-million over the next three years for B.C. schools.
- B.C. public schools will get a boost of about $240-million this year, while private schools will receive $25-million.
- The biggest slice of that, forecast at $320-million, is to cover the province’s obligation to the teachers union regarding class size and composition following last year’s landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling.
- The province is budgeting $332-million over the next three years for the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
- That means $145-million in new funding, about seven times the increase the province had projected last year, for a total of about $1.6-billion.
- The amount specifically for kids in care will be $66-million.
- The increase includes $120-million for family reunification, and $40-million allocated to fulfil recommendations in the Grand Chief Ed John report into indigenous child welfare.
- The Ministry of Health saw one of the largest increases across all ministries.
- Next year there is a bump of $875-million for the ministry, to a new total of $18.8-billion, nearly 40 per cent of the entire budget.
- Finance Minister Mike de Jong says back in 1994 the health budget was just $6-billion.
- Provincial debt forecast at $69.8-billion, and will grow to $77.7-billion in 2019/2020.
- Debt growth was driven by $25-billion in capital spending over next three years, including $2.4-billion Massey Tunnel replacement project and $8.7-billion for Site C Dam.