By Carole James
I was proud and honoured to stand in the Legislature on February 19 and deliver my third budget as B.C.’s Minister of Finance. Budget 2019 is about creating opportunities by lifting people up so that they can thrive.
For each and every person who reaches their full potential, they get there because of the people around them who cared, the places that have shaped their lives, and the opportunities they have had to succeed. I know that’s certainly true for me.
I grew up in a house with open doors. My old family home is just a few blocks away from the Legislature, on Lewis Street in James Bay.
It’s a rambling, seven-bedroom house that, over the decades, was home to my family and extended family, which included dozens of foster children. I grew up in the house, and later raised my own family there. My grandparents and my mum never lectured about why we dedicated our time to people. It was just a part of our everyday life.
That home on Lewis Street showed me the importance of taking care of one another. I saw first-hand that often, all it takes to change a person’s life is an opportunity, paired with a hand-up. Those values of caring, of opening doors, of recognizing that everyone has something to contribute...of living within your means and sharing what you have; those are the values the people of this province expect from their government.
Success doesn’t mean much unless it’s paid forward to help open doors for others. And, I’m proud to announce that Budget 2019 does just that.
Under the last government, only the few at the top benefitted, while opportunities became further out of reach for most. People were told they had to choose between a strong economy or investments in people. But the truth is, we can and must have both.
We’re creating new opportunities so that people and business can thrive, by:
Creating the new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit so that all kids have the opportunity to meet their full potential.
Eliminating interest on B.C. student loans, so young people get a good start in their lives and careers, interest-free.
Fully eliminating MSP Premiums starting January 1, 2020, saving families up to $1,800 a year.
Sharing stable, long-term funding with First Nations communities, so they can fund their priorities from services and housing to self-government and economic development.
Moving forward with CleanBC - the largest investment in climate action in B.C. history.
The B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit provides support to families for every child they have up to the age of 18. For the first child, the benefit is as high as $1,600 a year, for a family with two children the benefit is as much as $2,600, and for three children it is as much as $3,400.
For the first time in B.C. history, the province will be funding local organizations to operate rent banks that will provide short-term, low or no-interest loans so that renters don’t end up on the street because of a crisis. We are moving forward on a homelessness action plan with a $76-million investment that will support land acquisition and services to build homes for people who need them most.
We’re increasing income and disability rates by an additional $50 per month, bringing the total increase to $150 a month or $1,800 per year. This means more money for groceries, transportation and life’s basic necessities.
We’ve eliminated Fair Pharmacare deductibles for people with low incomes and are now investing an additional $42 million to expand the drugs covered by Fair Pharmacare. This will help people access the medications they need, including people living with diabetes, asthma and hypertension.
Budget 2019 invests over half a billion dollars to ensure that our schools deliver the quality of education British Columbians expect for their children. This is on top of the 4,000 new teachers, including counsellors and school psychologists, and 1,000 new educational assistants that are supporting kids in our schools.
Those are just some of the highlights. For more detailed information on Budget 2019, please visit www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca
MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
1084 Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3K4
Phone: 250 952-4211