[SALMON ARM] British Columbia’s strong economy means more money back in the pockets of middle-class families in the Shuswap area, and investments in the programs and services people rely on most.
“Balanced Budget 2017 gives a leg up to the Shuswap,” said Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo. “Families across the Shuswap will benefit greatly from the 50 percent cut to MSP premiums. I think it is appropriate that the government is putting more money back into the pockets of local families.”
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 the Shuswap include:
- $9 million for rural education enhancement funding to mitigate against school closures in eligible areas, and a total of $94 million to relieve the K-12 sector from a variety of operational pressures.
- $40 million in additional funding for the Connecting British Columbia program to extend high-speed Internet access to rural and remote BC communities and bring higher speeds to support community economic growth.
- $25 million to continue the rural dividend program into 2019/20.
- Budget 2017 provides an additional $159 million to maintain assistance levels for low-income families and seniors, to help make rent more affordable in private market rental units. Services are also maintained for the homeless in the existing permanent shelter system.
- $100 million more for mental health and substance use treatment, focusing on youth.
- $65 million to fund 380 housing units in support of the homeless across BC, including individuals with mental health and substance use issues.
- Firefighters and Search and Rescue volunteers tax credit, a $3,000 non-refundable tax credit providing a benefit up to $151.80 each year.
- $10 million for invasive plant management.
- $6 million over three years to support the Buy Local program to support the continued growth of local demand for B.C. agrifoods.
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