[VANDERHOOF] British Columbia’s strong economy means more money back in the pockets of middle-class families in Nechako Lakes and investments in the programs and services people rely on most.
“B.C.’s 2017 balanced budget has a number of targeted investments which have great benefits for rural communities like ours,” said Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. “In addition to the $40 million going towards the Connecting B.C. Program which helps provide broadband internet to rural and remote communities, we will also see $25 million for the continuation of the rural dividend fund. Plus families here will see major tax relief and money back into their pockets.”
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 across the Nechako Lakes region include:
- $40 million in additional funding to extend high-speed internet access to rural and remote B.C. communities to support economic growth.
- $9 million for rural education enhancement funding to mitigate against school closures in eligible areas.
- $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.
- $45 million to eliminate the fees for school bus services.
- 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