Finance Minister Mike de Jong says surpluses, revenues are all up
Revenues are up, and surpluses are growing.
With just eight months to the election, the provincial government says the B.C. economy is, again, leading the country.
As Mary Griffin reports, the numbers have some British Columbians reaping the benefit.
As fast as staff load up the boxes to send to the sales floor, it’s sold and flying out the door.
Home and garden supplies are one of the hot spots in a growing provincial economy.
Oak Bay’s Home Hardware manager Andrew Wrean says business is good.
“We’ve seen an increase, and our customer count is doing well.
People are certainly willing to buy what they need.”
Finance Minister Mike de Jong says B.C.’s economy is doing well.
“There are more people in B.C.
There are more people coming to B.C.
They are people working in B.C.
They are earning more money.”
And they are paying more in taxes.
That extra revenue accounts for provincial books awash in cash, just eight months from the provincial election.
So the government is giving some of it away…
The January hike to medical services premiums is cancelled.
And British Columbians on social assistance will see a four percent decrease.
For a single parent with two children that’s a savings of $900 a year.
A single parent with one child will save $732 dollars a year.
Thanks to a booming real estate industry, the province anticipates collecting $2.2 billion dollars from the property transfer tax for the fiscal year.
Leading to a provincial surplus of $1.9 billion.
But the NDP’s finance critic, Carole James, says they are not buying it.
“The government wants you to believe that everything is fine.
But for many, many families they are struggling.
We know that people continue to live paycheque to paycheque.”
Those include people with disabilities who receive a monthly pension from the province.
Those pensions increased $77 to $982, their first raise in nine years.
But once they pay a new $54 monthly fee for a bus pass, that leaves only $25.
De Jong says that may change.
“Are we examining the rates of support, the amount of support, paid to British Columbians, and particularly the more vulnerable British Columbians for whom life can be really challenging, yes.”
With a hot economy, the province is hinting at more benefits to come pre-election.