The provincial budget has been released and, as expected, childcare and housing feature prominently in the package.

The province plans on introducing a new affordable child-care benefit.

The MLA for the Cowichan Valley says she’s happy with the budget announcement of money for childcare and housing but there were bigger steps that could have been taken, especially when it comes to affordable housing.
Sonia Furstenau says for the Cowichan Valley specifically there are three capital projects that she would have liked to see some action on……
Furstenau says there wasn’t much in the budget with regards to the environment and she says she would have liked to see an action plan on climate change.

The John Horgan government plans on curbing speculation in B.C.’s housing market and on building 114,000 affordable rental, non-profit, co-op and owner-purchase housing units through partnerships.

One of those partnerships, promised in the throne speech was to offer incentives to universities to build more student housing to free up other rental units in communities.

V-I-U’s Carol Desilets says they know there is a shortage of student housing at the Nanaimo campus but, she says, there’s also been some interest in housing for students at the Cowichan campus.

And the Mayor of North Cowichan says, while affordable housing in the community is a priority and land has been rezoned for it there are still some steps that need to be taken before the community can get in the queue for funding.

Medical Services Plan premiums will be eliminated by January 2020, however, that means a new employer health tax.

The new health tax, to be paid by employers is expected to raise one point 9 billion dollars in revenue for the province.

Starting in January of 2019 employers, with payrolls of more than half a million dollars, will be asked to pay the new tax.

The Island’s lone Liberal MLA, Michelle Stilwell, of Parksville/Qualicum says much of the tax burden in this NDP budget is being shifted to business….
Overall, Stilwell says the NDP government offered up a long list of social spending that actually will cost 5 point 5 billion dollars in tax hikes, much of it on the backs of business.

Ferry fares will be frozen on all major BC Ferries routes and the seniors passenger fare discount will be fully restored.

Free bus passes for people on disability assistance will be reinstated.

The province is also promising significant investments in health care for seniors.

Hospital Employees’ Union, Jennifer Whiteside says the budget will inject 548 million dollars into seniors care in the heath care system…..

There will be 18 million dollars spent to boost services that provide outreach and counselling support for women and children affected by violence.

The commitments will be funded, the NDP government says in part from new revenue sources like a speculation tax and increases in the foreign buyers’ tax.

Economic growth is projected to be 2 point 3 per cent.