[KELOWNA] British Columbia’s strong economy means more money back in the pockets of middle-class families in Kelowna and investments in the programs and services people rely on most.
“Because we’ve stuck our plan and because of hardworking British Columbians, we are number one in Canada with five straight balanced budgets” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “What that means is we’re able to help people in Kelowna and across the province build the lives they want, starting with the ability to get a good job at good pay, a chance to own your own home, and keeping more of their hard-earned money where it belongs – in their pocket.”
“This budget returns the benefits of a strong economy to British Columbians,” said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. “Families will see up to $900 back in their pockets thanks to our major MSP premium cut. The budget also includes many measures to keep BC’s economy strong and growing which will allow us to eventually eliminate MSP premiums completely.”
“This budget will make a real difference in the lives of people in the Okanagan. Not only will we see major MSP premium reductions in advance of their elimination, but we’ll also see significant increases in the Health budget, which will help us improve access to primary care,” said Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick. “Furthermore, continued investments in water, road and transit infrastructure in the central Okanagan, in Okanagan College and UBCO, and in our agriculture, high tech and small business sectors will help us support the growth of jobs in our region.”
The centrepiece to Budget 2017 includes $1 billion in tax relief for middle-class families by cutting Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums in half for individuals and families with a net income up to $120,000. This is the first step as the Province begins to eliminate MSP premiums. A typical family of four paying full MSP premiums will save $900 per year in 2018 as a result of this measure.
Budget 2017 also makes key investments in areas like classrooms, mental health services, and other supports for those most in need. The Government is also significantly increasing investment in healthcare – over $4.2 billion more over the next three years – to ensure British Columbians continue to receive the healthcare services they need.
Regional highlights that will benefit communities like Kelowna include:
- $13.7 billion in infrastructure funding to support the Okanagan Valley highway corridor program.
- $2.7 billion increase in capital health care projects will support the Interior Heart and Surgical Centre in Kelowna.
- $45 million to eliminate the fees for school bus services
- Firefighters and Search and Rescue volunteers tax credit, a $3,000 non-refundable tax credit providing a benefit up to $151.80 each year.
- $6 million over three years to support the Buy Local program to support the continued growth of local demand for B.C. agrifoods.
- $40 million in additional funding to extend high-speed internet access to rural and remote BC communities to support economic growth.
- $10 million for invasive plant management.
Additional highlights of the budget include:
- $796 million for children, families and those in need.
- $740 million for the K-12 education sector, including $320 million to address the recent interim agreement with teachers.
- More than $700 million for first-time homebuyers, building on $920 million for housing affordability and assistance.
- $249 million for communities and economic development.
- $149 million for parks and environmental protection.
- $280 million for other programs and services.
For more details on Budget 2017, visit: www.bcbudget.ca