The provincial government introduced what they called their 'balanced budget' on Tuesday in Victoria, which includes forecast surpluses in all three years of the fiscal plan and modest investments in priority areas.
According to Finance Minister Michael de Jong, B.C. is forecast to end the fiscal year 2013-14 with a surplus of $175 million, with progressively larger surpluses forecast in all three years of the fiscal plan: $184 million in 2014-15, $206 million in 2015-16 and $451 million in 2016-17.
According to de Jong, while the fiscal plan shows continued spending discipline, modest surpluses allow government to make choices and ensure new spending is put into priority areas. Government is providing additional funding of $415 million to benefit B.C. families, help make life more affordable, and help stimulate economic growth and job creation, he said.
Community Living B.C. will receive increased incremental funding of $243 million over the three-year plan to help maintain existing services for adults with developmental disabilities and their families. An additional $15 million over three years will be provided to the Ministry of Children and Family Development for children and youth with special needs and an additional $15 million over three years will be provided for increased RCMP policing costs and $6 million for legal aid-related services.
"B.C. has demonstrated that with hard work, due diligence and fiscal discipline, it is possible to achieve something that few other jurisdictions in Canada can claim to have today: a balanced budget," said de Jong. "B.C. is now in the enviable position of having a balanced budget this year and in all three coming years of our fiscal plan."
NDP MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast Nicholas Simons was less than enthusiastic about the budget and what it contained.
"I was very disappointed that the government didn't see fit to provide relief to Coastal communities regarding ferry fares," said Simons.
Simons was also disappointed that not enough emphasis was put on dealing with serious social issues.
"This government is not addressing the serious social issues that continue to plague this province," he said. "Just last week the government was talking about a crime reduction strategy, yet there is not much here to help with crime prevention and law enforcement. This government says one thing and does another."
But Simons was pleased to see additional funding for sectors regarding developmental issues.
"Advocates for people with developmental disabilities should feel at least some relief that this government has paid some attention," he said.
For more details on the budget visit: www.bcbudget.ca.
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