MLAs battle over family budgets

Medical premiums up four per cent, BC Hydro rates up nine per cent as of April 1

Premier Christy Clark listens as Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the 2014-15 budget in the B.C. legislature Tuesday.

VICTORIA – Opposition politicians called out Premier Christy Clark Thursday on her assurances that the province’s budget would not be balanced by asking more from taxpayers.

“Look, it’s the premier herself who yesterday said she would not be going out to taxpayers and asking them for more money,” NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth told the legislature.

He estimated fee increases of $900 a year for thousands of B.C. families, including a sixth consecutive increase in Medical Services Plan fees.

“They’re going to be paying more for MSP. They’re going to pay more for hydro. They’re going to pay more for ferry trips,” Farnworth said. “They’re going to pay more for car insurance, and if they live south of the Fraser, they’re definitely going to be paying more in tolls.”

Finance Minister Mike de Jong replied that the four per cent increase in MSP fees is the latest of a series signalled in the last three B.C. budgets. Premiums, many paid by employers, account for 12 per cent of a health care budget that has grown from $8 billion to $17 billion since 2001, de Jong said.

MSP premiums increase by up to $5.50 a month for families earning more than $30,000 a year,  effective with the start of a new fiscal year April 1. On the same date, a nine per cent increase in BC Hydro rates takes effect, adding $8 a month to the average residential electricity bill.

De Jong cited assistance for families in the 2014-15 budget, including a $1,200 payment into a Registered Education Savings Plan for children born in 2007 or later. A tax credit of up to $55 a month for children under age six is to take effect in 2015.

The biggest priority for new program spending in this week’s budget is an extra $243 million over three years for Community Living B.C. for services to developmentally disabled adults. Another $15 million is allocate to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for special needs children.

An extra $15 million over three years is directed to RCMP policing costs and $6 million is allocated for legal aid services.

The budget also directs $29 million to support development of a liquefied natural gas industry in B.C., including attracting investment and providing permits and environmental protection.

 

Just Posted

Project provides barrier to suicides at hospital parkade

VIHA budgets $650,000 for work at Royal Jubilee Hospital parkade

Pandora supervised consumption site has busy first month

Site whose aim is to save lives takes on a new client-driven name: The Harbour

BC Nurses Union calls for decriminalization of opioids

BCNU president wants the federal government to do more to reduce preventable deaths

Pedestrian struck on Quadra Street

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Quadra Street at Hulford… Continue reading

Victoria airport workers rally on Tuesday

Food service workers call for improved working conditions

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Greater Victoria prices continue to rise as market shows signs of cooling

A survey shows the aggregate price of a home in Victoria increased… Continue reading

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Former Vike returns to lead women’s rowing program

Williams rowed for UVic, Oxford and Canada

Most Read