View from Victoria

BC-Legislative-Assembly-ChamberThe BC Legislature resumed sitting in February. The 2014 Budget was introduced in the house and it is expected to deliver a very small surplus.

The government mentioned the following in the Ministry of Health Service Plan:

Objective 2.5

Increased access to an appropriate continuum of residential care services. The population requiring residential care has varied health and social care needs. A key priority of the health care system is to work with partners to ensure the right mix of services for frail seniors and others that best meet the needs of patients.

Key Actions

· Develop residential care models and quality standards for patients with dementia and younger populations with special needs such as chronic severe mental illness.

· Improve the home and community care system to better address the needs of B.C.’s seniors who require these services, including appointing a Seniors’ Advocate, and strengthening protections from abuse and neglect.

· Expand home support and technology for home health monitoring services to help seniors stay at home longer

There were no dollars in the budget to support the BC Liberal campaign “commitment to double the number of hospice beds in BC by 2020.”

Here are some of the other highlights.

Balanced with thin surpluses over next 3 years:

  • $184 million in 2014/15
  • $206 million in 2015/16
  • $451 million in 2016/17

The government forecasts the economy to grow by 2.0 percent in 2014, 2.3 per cent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016. Total government revenue is forecast at $44.8 billion in 2014-15. Revenue is expected to average 2.6 per cent annual growth over the next 3 years.

New Spending

Limited spending increases of $415 million over the next three years including:

  • $243 million over 3 years for Community Living BC for services for adults with developmental disabilities.
  • $15 million over 3 years for Ministry of Children and Family Development for children and youth with special needs.

Health Care

Ministry of Health Budget will increase $2.5 billion over 3 years. Total health spending by function will reach $19.6 billion, or more than 42 per cent of all government expenses by 2016-17.

LNG

  • LNG tax – the LNG Income Tax will be a two-tier tax with a tier-one tax rate of 1.5 per cent and a tier-two rate of up to seven per cent, with the final rates to be determined and confirmed in legislation (fall 2014 for legislation and spring 2015 for regulations)
  • LNG strategy – $29 million over 3 years to ensure the appropriate management of the province’s LNG strategy

New Tax Measures

  • BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit, effective April 1, 2015.
  • Extension of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit
  • Increase to the threshold for exemption from property transfer tax under the First Time Home Buyers’ Program for registrations on or after February 19, 2014

Capital Spending

Taxpayer supported capital spending on schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure over the next 3 years is expected to total $11 Billion, including:

  • $1.5 billion to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities
  • $2.3 billion for capital spending by post-secondary institutions
  • $2.6 billion on health-sector infrastructure
  • $3.4 billion for transportation investments.

Debt

  • The total provincial debt forecast to be $64.7 billion in 2014/15
  • Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $43.1 billion in 2014/15k