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Provincial Budget highlights

The 2016-17 provincial budget has landed.

Finance Minister Mike De Jong addressed the BC Legislature today. “This year I will congratulate British Columbians for scoring a budgetary grand slam; in 2016-17 for the fourth year in a row, the government is tabling and will deliver a balanced budget.”

Highlights include;

-Changes to Medical Services Plan Premiums; children are now exempt and assistance will now kick in at $42,000 a year instead of $30,000. However for everyone else, rates are going up about 3 dollars a month. Changes take effect next January. More details on eligibility for assistance can be found here.

-$5 million over three years to build the BC wood brand in India

-$85 million will be spent to prevent wildfires across the province. 55 million for emergency preparedness.

-Disability Assistance is going up $77 a month, but people will now be required to purchase their own $52 bus passes monthly.

-New homes under $750,000 are now exempt from the property transfer tax, saving a buyer up to $13,000

-A previously announced but new $75 million Rural Dividend Program to help small communities diversify their economy

-The establishment of the ‘BC Prosperity Fund’, with an inaugural $100 million commitment, that will help eliminate the province’s debt (currently at 67.7 billion), invest in infrastructure and more.

-Farmers food donation tax credit worth 25% of the fair market value of qualifying agricultural products donated to a registered charity that provides food to people in need or a school meal program

-The Ministry of Children and Family Development will get a $217 million boost

Finance Minister Mike De Jong says the BC Economic Forecast Council is projecting GDP growth to be 2.7% in 2016, 2.6% in 2017 and an average of 2.4% over 2018-20.

The province is projecting a small surplus of $264 million.

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