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BC Budget in a Nutshell: How does it measure up?

Congratulations! The government just announced the BC Budget on Tuesday and we were there to see what their plans are. Thanks to you, there are significant measures to tackle the breadth of poverty in BC through investments in housing and child care in the 2018 BC Budget. These 2 key pillars of a poverty reduction plan will make a big difference to working families throughout BC.

Thank you for your work in encouraging the government to take these steps, and as the government continues to travel around the province, please keep heading out to their poverty reduction consultations to tell your story and highlight the need for bold action now. 

We can and need to do more here in BC to close the gap. We can afford to care.

Welfare and Disability Assistance

Welfare and Disability Assistance

Although some necessary changes will be made to the accessibility of the income assistance system through funding of $6 million over 3 years to increase staffing and reduce wait times, there are no increases to welfare and disability rates in the budget, leaving more than 190,000 British Columbians struggling to survive on these deeply inadequate rates. The basic welfare rate in BC will remain at only $710 per month, just over 40 per cent of the poverty line (cost of living), while the basic disability rate also remains below the poverty line at $1133 plus a $52 transportation subsidy.

Please join us in sending a message to the government to urge them to take stronger action to tackle the depth of poverty in BC.

Housing

Housing

Total invested is $1.6 billion over 3 years, $6.5 billion over 10 years for 114,000 homes, including:

  • $445 million over 3 years (of a 10-year commitment) for 19,000 affordable rental units for the “missing middle,” those with moderate incomes
  • Only $306 million over 3 years towards construction of 2,500 new units of supportive housing for the homeless and 1,500 units for women and children fleeing domestic violence
  • 1,750 units for indigenous people over 3 years
  • 5,000 units of student housing provided through borrowing program but affordability issues on campus not explicitly addressed
  • $1 billion over 10 years in retrofits and renovations of existing social housing
  • Expanding seniors benefits (SAFER program) and increasing Rental Assistance Program for working parents will benefit 3,200 new seniors and families
  • Changes to laws on renovations or demolitions but no rent control on the unit

Significant tax measures to redistribute housing wealth:

  • new speculation tax for Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria, Fraser Valley, Nanaimo and Kelowna;
  • foreign buyers tax increased from 15% to 20% and also extended to those regions;
  • increasing property purchase tax and school tax rate for homes worth over $3 million

See more from members:

Childcare

Child care

  • $1 billion over 3 years to start building universal child care for BC
  • Fee reductions of up to $350/month with a focus on infant/toddler and 3-5 year-olds, which are expected to benefit up to 50,000 families
  • New affordable child care benefit of up to $1,250 for families with pre-tax incomes of $45,000 or less, which is expected to benefit 86,000 families within 2 years
  • Increasing spaces to train Early Childhood Educators and expanded grants/bursaries but no immediate improvement of wages
  • 22,000 new space throughout the province
  • Expansion of the Head Start program for indigenous families both on and off reserve
  • Start up grants to encourage child care providers to become licensed in order to improve the quality of care
  • Prototype centres to build the model of reduced fees, supported ECE workers and early learning centres in a representative range of BC communities

Message from the $10aDay Child Care Campaign: “For years, you and thousands of other $10aDay supporters called on government to take steps to fix BC’s child care chaos. Yesterday – the BC government did just that! Today – we humbly thank all of our supporters and allies who made this momentous day possible.”

Please join the $10aDay Child Care Campaign in saying Thank You!

More from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society: Indigenous-led child care in BC finally has the potential to be a reality

Health

Health

  • $548 million for seniors care over three years, including funds for residential care
  • $105 million in funding toward eliminating or reducing deductibles for prescription drugs for poor and working class individuals and families.
  • Completely eliminating MSP premiums by January 2020, saving families $1,800 per year and individuals $900 per year; and introducing a new employer tax as a fair way to replace part of the premium revenue
  • New Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions invested with $322 million over the next three years to support shifting from emergency response to a longer-terms proactive and preventative strategy
  • $150 million over three years to expand coverage of primary care providers to improve access to team-based care for those not currently able access care
  • $16 million over two years for the First Nations Health Authority to support mental health and wellness
  • $3.1 billion for health construction projects, upgrades to facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment, and information management technology systems
  • Increasing the Ministry of Health’s operating budget by more than $1.5 billion over the next three years

See more from members:

Education

Education

  • $212 million increase in operating funding for public schools but more funding needed for specialist teachers and education assistants to properly support children with special needs
  • For post-secondary education, projected lift in operating grants of 3.4% per year, but a projected 6.1% increase per year in revenues from tuition fees: with domestic tuition still capped at 2%, this means continued reliance on international students
  • $450 million housing fund for institutions to apply to for potentially 5,000 new units within residences but institutions must cover 25% of the cost and students want a commitment that such housing will be affordable
  • Nothing to address student loan interest rates – the ministry is continuing to look at the issue at a cost of $17 million per year
  • Money for tech students, Adult Basic Education & English Language Learners, and former youth in care had already been announced, but $30 million in new dollars for additional supports for former youth in care
  • Dedicated funding for indigenous skills training
  • Nothing new on capital expenditures: all the existing promises (including a new trades building on every campus) are rolling out

More from members:

Equity

Equity

  • Increased supports for youth aging out of care and increased age of coverage to 26 years
  • Commitment to build 1,500 units of housing dedicated to women and children fleeing domestic violence
  • Measures for indigenous people and communities, including 1,750 housing units, and funding for Aboriginal Friendship Centres, child care, Indigenous Skill Training Program, and to support the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages in BC.
  • Only $5 million per year for legal aid, which does not go far in filling the $40 million cut from the previous government
  • $52 transportation supplement for PWD recipients referenced in budget but already announced last fall
  • Very modest annual increases for Community Living BC continue to lag behind projected caseload growth of 5-6 percent annually
  • $4 million over 2 years to test Basic Income through conversation with an expert committee
  • Appointment of new Parliamentary Secretary on Gender Equity on February 15
  • No new enhancements to the low income climate action tax credit: the September 2017 budget increased the annual amount for an adult by $19.50 to $135 and for a child by $5.50 to $40

More from Members:

Low Wage Work

Low Wage Work

  • Only $3 million for employment standards, combined with the slow timeline on the minimum wage increase to $15/hour, means little security for low wage workers

The minimum wage announcement came on February 8 when the government followed the recommendations of the Fair Wages Commission to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour but not until 2021.

BCPRC press release: $15/hour by 2021 keeps workers in poverty for too long, community advocates urge strong action in BC’s poverty reduction plan to fill the gap 

The next stage is ensuring that all workers are covered by the minimum wage without exceptions. Tell the Minister of Labour Harry Bains: it’s time that BC had one fair wage for all workers – no exceptions! 

Join us and the Poverty Free Action Team on Wednesday, February 28th at 5:45 pm – 6:45 pm at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre as we support the Fight for $15 campaign to help raise awareness and support for this much needed change. Meet at the fountain in the plaza.