VICTORIA: People throughout the province tell me the same thing: B.C.’s economy is working well – but it’s not working well for me or my family.
We live in a province rich in opportunity, yet that opportunity has been pushed out of reach for too many. I’ve heard from young families, students, workers and seniors who can’t afford housing where they live. Families are struggling to find safe, affordable care for their children. And people across B.C. need reliable access to the services they count on.
We can do better. On Tuesday, I presented our first full budget since our government took office seven months ago. It marks a different approach where people and affordability are put at the centre of government’s decisions.
With this budget our province has started down the path to a made-in-B.C., universal, child-care plan with a historic $1-billion investment. We will deliver the kind of care our kids deserve, where parents need it, and at a price they can afford. The plan includes a new affordable child-care benefit, which will provide as many as 86,000 families across B.C. with up to $1,250 per month in child-care cost relief. There also will be a new child-care fee reduction program that will benefit all families in licensed care with fee reductions of up to $350 per month. And there will be more than 22,000 new licensed child-care spaces created throughout the province.
Our budget also takes bold steps to tackle B.C.’s housing crisis. For too long this crisis was ignored by government. It has hurt people and it has hurt businesses’ ability to attract and retain workers. That’s why our budget lays out a comprehensive plan to stabilize the market and curb demand. We’re cracking down on speculators and satellite families who are driving up housing costs in our province with a new speculation tax, increasing and expanding the foreign-buyer tax to other communities in B.C., and closing loopholes that are being exploited in the real-estate market. The principle is clear: Our housing market shouldn’t be used as a stock market.
We’re also going to dedicate more than $7 billion over the next years to build, operate and maintain affordable housing for renters, our most vulnerable citizens, students and seniors. We’re increasing rental assistance for low-income seniors and families and strengthening laws to help renters. We want people to have diverse, inclusive neighbourhoods that they feel safe in. We want affordable housing that works for people.
None of these investments could be possible without B.C.’s strong economy. The significant steps we’re taking on child care and housing in this budget will help our businesses get the workforce they need. We’re making record-level investments in schools, hospitals and our transportation network, as well as creating 50,000 direct and indirect jobs through these investments.
But let’s be clear – the benefits of a strong economy must be shared with everyone. That’s why we’re also eliminating MSP premiums and saving families up to $1,800 a year, building more hospitals and schools across B.C., improving care for seniors who deserve the best we can give them, and so much more. It’s a budget that makes life more affordable and helps people get ahead. And I’m incredibly proud to be a part of a government that is putting British Columbians at the centre of our government’s decisions. Our budget balances the needs and priorities of the families, seniors, students, young adults and small businesses that have built our province, with a prudent fiscal plan that invests in a strong and sustainable economy. Budget 2018 is a budget that works for you.