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 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.
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.
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.