Michael de Jong Minister of Finance
Michael de Jong Minister of Finance
Michael de Jong
Minister of Finance

Victoria: For the third year in a row, British Columbia has tabled a balanced budget, an accomplishment underscored by the very real fiscal challenges facing our provincial neighbours, as well as governments abroad. B.C. is on track to post an $879 million surplus by the end of 2014-15, and forecast surpluses totalling just over $1 billion over the course of the fiscal plan, making our province the envy of governments worldwide.
Creating the kind of stable economic growth in B.C. that is necessary to make life easier on families and those in need, is no small feat. But the strategies that are crucial to this continued success are hardly a secret: discipline, fiscal prudence and continuing to diversify our economy.
The discipline we showed through the recession to bring the budget into balance has given us the resources to begin paying back the money we borrowed during that period to support core programs and services. It also provides the flexibility to make modest, strategic investments to maintain public services like health care and education, as well as strengthening and encouraging growth in key economic sectors.
Budget 2015 helps make life a little easier for families and those in need. Starting this September, parents receiving both income assistance and child support payments from a non-custodial parent will be able to keep every dollar they receive in child support over and above what they receive in assistance. This translates into an additional $32 million over three years for some of the neediest children and families in the province.
Additionally, an estimated 180,000 families will begin collecting the B.C. Early Childhood Tax Benefit on April 1, 2015. That’s up to $660 per year for each child under the age of six to help cover the costs of child care.
Budget 2015 reaffirms this government’s commitment to health care, with an increase of nearly $3 billion to the Ministry of Health over the next three years. Another $12.5 million has been earmarked for the Canadian Cancer Society and the establishment of a Cancer Prevention Centre in Vancouver. These investments would not be possible without the healthy and diverse economy we enjoy here in British Columbia, but we as a province are not immune to the fiscal challenges that can send shockwaves through the marketplaces where we do business. The diversity in our economy and our export markets has insulated B.C. from the worst of the economic downturn. Budget 2015 will support further diversification by creating a new partnership with the maritime shipping industry and continuing our partnership with B.C.’s growing aerospace industry. We are also helping B.C. businesses tap into the opportunity represented by the new renminbi hub to sell their products and services to China. The previous year has been volatile for world markets. Oil prices have plummeted, the Canadian dollar has fallen and just last month the Bank of Canada reduced its interest rate. Nevertheless, the Economic Forecast Council expects B.C. projects real GDP growth of 2.6% in 2015, 2.8% in 2016 and an average of 2.5% over 2017-19. While these gains may seem modest. Having a diverse economy and diverse export markets means we are more insulated from changing conditions, both at home and abroad. This reality is one of our greatest assets and is truly something we can all take great pride in as British Columbians.