The BC government introduced its 2019 provincial budget last week.
Curious how it will affect you?
Here’s how the latest budget could improve your own financial situation.
For people with children
The new Child Opportunity Benefit will provide income-qualifying families with one child up to $1,600 per year, those with two children up to $2,600 a year, and those with three children up to $3,400 per year. Benefits will be paid until a child reaches age 18.
Scheduled to come into effect in October 2020, the plan will replace the Early Childhood Tax Benefit, which provides families with up to $660 a year per child, to the age of six. “Over the course of a child’s upbringing, families with one child will receive as much as $28,800. For families with two children, that number can exceed $40,000 in support,” according to the government.
For low and middle income earners
Effective July 1, 2019, the maximum annual climate action tax credit paid to individuals and families with net incomes below certain thresholds will increase 14%, to $154.50 per adult and to $45.50 per child. The tax-free payments are meant to help offset the impact of BC carbon taxes paid by low and middle income earners.
There will also be a $50 increase to monthly income and disability assistance rates. The government increased those same rates by $100 two years ago, bringing the total increase in the last three years to $150.
For health care consumers
The Fair Pharmacare program will be expanded with an additional $42 million to cover more drugs, including those for diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
As promised previously, Medical Services Plan premiums will be fully eliminated on January 1, 2020, saving families up to $1,800 per year.
The new BC budget introduces new incentives for energy-saving home improvements. Homeowners can receive $2,000 to replace a fossil fuel heating system with an electric air source heat pump, $1,000 to improve insulation on windows and doors, and $700 towards a higher efficiency natural gas furnace.
The 2019 budget includes $10 million in funding for community organization to operate rent banks that provide short-term loans with little to no interest to low-income tenants who can’t pay their rent due to a financial crisis.
Interest charges on the provincial portion of post-secondary student loans have been eliminated, effectively immediately. This will save the average graduate student with $11,700 in student loans around $2,300 over the 10 year repayment period.
For small business owners
The small business corporate income tax rate is reduced from 2.5% to 2%.
Other notable initiatives
For Indigenous communities
The 2019 budget introduces a new revenue sharing agreement between the provincial government and BC First Nations. Starting in April, approximately $3 billion in gambling revenues will be shared over 25 years with BC’s Indigenous communities; that’s $250,000 to $2 million for each community every year. Each BC First Nation will determine for itself how the money is spent.
For the homeless
A new investment of nearly $76 million will be used to buy land and build an additional 200 new modular homes in the province, providing shelter to people who are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
For remote and rural communities
A $50 million “digital infrastructure” investment will bring high-speed internet service to more than 200 remote and rural communities across the province.
For the arts
The 2019 budget allocates an additional $15 million to the BC Arts Council, spread over three years, boosting the granting agency’s annual budget to $34 million.