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

Agassiz bus driver’s seatbelt petition heads to Ottawa

Gary Lillico is hoping his one-month petition will make a mark on the House of Commons

No crackers for quackers: Hope resident warns fellow locals to not feed wild birds

‘You should not feed wildlife anything—they don’t need it,’ Wildlife Rescue Association says

Man dead after motorcycle crash in Hope, police watchdog says

Thursday’s crash is still being investigated by the IIO

Agassiz trail runner looks to conquer local mountains

Marina Striker has run the equivalent of four Mount Everests in April alone

Four years in jail for Langley, Maple Ridge scissor robber

Ryan Korte also guilty of a Chilliwack vehicle theft for which he received eight months

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

Update: Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Cloverdale Rodeo competition promises to be a ‘nail-biter’ this weekend

New challengers giving returning champions a run for their money

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Most Read