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

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

Clearwater RCMP look for missing Alberta man

Wayne Theriault was last believed to have been seen on March 24

Clearwater charity helps local man with medical costs

Group brings in $1,200 in 20 minutes

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

COVID-19 has been impacting Canadian economy since January

But full effects of pandemic won’t be known for months

Doctors trained abroad want to join front lines of COVID-19 fight in Canada

B.C. is looking to allow internationally trained doctors to work under the supervision of attending physicians

Fake test kits and other COVID online scams play on public anxiety: fraud centre

Vancouver has seen a spike in commercial property crimes, with offices and stores empty because of COVID-19

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Feds amplify stay-home message as cost of financial aid to Canadians mounts

Liberals have unveiled around $200B in direct financial aid and tax deferrals

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Most Read