BC Budget Shows Strong Provincial Position

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Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong. Photo: Ray Hudson
BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong  Photo: Ray Hudson
BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong
Photo: Ray Hudson

By Ray Hudson

Surrey: Two weeks after presenting his third surplus budget, Finance Minister Mike de Jong told a meeting of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, that BC is in good shape, and will likely be the only province, to present a balanced budget this year.

Two weeks after presenting his third surplus budget, Finance Minister Mike de Jong told a meeting of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, that BC is in good shape, and will likely be the only province, to present a balanced budget this year.

Two weeks after presenting his third surplus budget, Finance Minister Mike de Jong told a meeting of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, that BC is in good shape, and will likely be the only province, to present a balanced budget this year.

He said the surplus will likely to come in over $600 million, in a climate where economic growth at 2.4%, is leading the country against the average is estimated at .08%

The minister said housing starts continue to increase with employment growth pegged at 1.2% as people continue to come to BC to find work. Some are returning from Alberta with the rest coming from across Canada and overseas.

Things are improving well on the direct debt side where direct operating debt had been as high as $15.2 billion. “We took it down, went through a bit of a recession and then it went back up. Now we are paying it down again so a to leave debt for the next generation.”

“We’ll consume services but we’ll pay for them,” he said. “The budget that we tabled will have us at the lowest direct operating debt, since 1984/85, and our objective two years beyond this is to have the figure cross zero for the first time in forty-five years.”

Concerning MSP payments, de Jong said the health budget of $19 billion is growing by half a billion dollars per year. Some changes were made so that people who have more will pay a little more and people with less will pay a little less. Two million people will not pay premiums and another three hundred thousand will pay reduced premiums. However, with premiums providing $2.4 billion, de Jong asked, if payments are eliminated, where does that money come from?

On the Real Estate side, he said that new housing would be exempt from the transfer tax to create an incentive to build more housing. At the same time the rate for construction over two million will be increased to three percent.

He said the Province is in good shape economically, leading the country in Economic Growth, and the government will continue to build a contingency against the current unstable economic conditions in the world.