British Columbia

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BC 2017 Budget provides MSP relief in the only province that still has such a levy

February 21, 2017

Legislative Assembly - Victoria

This budget is the last of the government of Premier Christy Clark prior to heading into an election this year.

This is also the fifth consecutive balanced budget in BC - one that shows a healthy surplus, in fact.

This budget provides an additional $796 million for programs that help families, individuals and children in need, which includes $199 million over three years to increase disability assistance - translating to $600 more per year.

Developmental disabilities and community living programs receive $135 million in this budget.

Health care receives the lion's share of expenditures in this 2017  budget, comprising upwards of 41% of total measures. With the newly-secured agreements with the federal government, the BC government has committed to nearly $1.4 billion over the next ten years to improve home care and support mental health initiatives.

The "big news" item in this budget is cut to medical services premiums. Through a phased-in approach, this measure is designed to eventually eliminate the medical survived premiums. In the first instance, upwards of 2 million people in BC will receive annual relief of upwards of $900 per family.

This budget also announces that the BC government will enter into a partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation to develop an accessibility certification program that will rate and promote accessibility in the built environment.

Affordable housing measures are minimal in this Budget, and manifest mainly in the form of intergovernmental and intersect oral partnerships. Certainly more can be​ done on this front.

Official government information about the 2017 BC Budget may be found at: 

2016 Budget Balanced for Fourth Consecutive Year

February 16, 2016

Legislative Assembly - Victoria

A growing economy in British Columbia is the driving force behind the Premier Christy Clark's 2016 budget that focused on the housing market in the Province (including measures aimed at foreign ownership and new construction), social spending received modest increases.

Capital spending of $355 million over five years will support the construction or renovation of more than 2,000 affordable housing units in communities across the province.

BC's Home Renovation Tax Credit, a measure advocated for by March of Dimes Canada, is expanded in this budget.  The tax credit provides up to $1,000 annually to help with the cost of certain home renovations to improve accessibility, helping seniors and persons with disabilities be more functional or mobile at home.

Finally, income assistance rates for persons with disabilities are increased by $170 million.

Official government information about the 2016 BC budget may be found at :​

2015 Budget:  Modest Spending Increases and Tax Breaks in Canada's Only Surplus Budget

​February 18, 2015

​Legislative Assembly - Victoria

Opposition critics are saying the BC government's 2015 budget doesn't do enough for low-income families and individuals in need.  No changes to personal tax rates were announced.  And there will be a 4% increase in premiums paid to the Medical Services Plan.

However,  The Government's Finance Minister, Michael de Jong points out that the province's surplus budget - the only one in Canada - provides for funding increases for the Ministry of Health totalling almost $3 billion.  Another measure allows for people on income or disability assistance to keep all of their child support payments.

Not surprisingly, the wage freeze for most public sector employees remains.  This is alongside BC's province-wide review of public sector compensation.  Immediate steps focus on continuing to pursue costs savings across the public sector as well as reviewing the effectiveness of provincial Crown corporations.

As part of the Budget's allocation of $3 billion to Health spending, new funding is provided for hospice, palliative and end-of-life care, which will work towards the goal of doubling the number of beds by 2020.

The Enhanced tax credit is extended, providing an additional 50% for First Nations individuals, people with disabilities and their employers.  
This measure builds on the BC Access Grant, a measure that supports students in financial need who are studying in-demand trades.

The 2015 fiscal plan also provides an additional $150 million over the next three years to support families and individuals in need, including an additional $106 million over the next three years to Community Living BC to support people with developmental disabilities, and an additional $20 million for income assistance programs.

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, the lead for Accessibility 2024, continues its ten-year action plan to make BC a fully accessible province for people living with disabilities.  According to the Ministry's Service Plan, Accessibility 2024 "is designed around 12 building blocks - ranging from employment to accessible service delivery - which reflect themes that emerged from public consultation," a province-wide initiative in which March of Dimes Canada participated on multiple occasions.  The Ministry's service Plan also states:  "key areas of work in the coming year include continuing consultation on options for a made-in BC approach to accessibility legislation, addressing income-assistance issues​ raised in the disability consultation through policy reforms, and improving supports leading to increased employment opportuniti8es."  Given our work in BC around delivery forums and workshops on accessibility legislation, this will be a key area to watch.

Official government information about the 2015 BC budget may be found at

BC's 2014 Budget Balances and Maintains

February 18, 2014
Legislative Assembly - Victoria

The media is describing the 2014 BC budget as "boring", due largely to the fact that the fiscal plan contains no new major announcements and few surpluses.  Yet, it is a balanced budget - and, most importantly, one that does not reduce spending in key areas of health and social service.

For example, roughly $243 million is committed over three years to Community Living BC as a measure to maintain services to adults with developmental disabilities.  Additionally, programs and services for children and youth with special needs will receive maintenance funding of approximately $15 million.

Medical Services Plan premiums increase by four percent, which means the average family will now pay about $144 per month.

Heal-care spending, by far the lion's share of total expenditures, will increase by $2.5 billion over three years.

Of particular relevance, the Ministry of Social​ Development and Social Innovation continues to lead the consultation on how government, businesses and communities can increase accessibility and decrease barriers for people with disabilities, a process in which March of Dimes Canada is participating.  A key component of this consultation focuses on employment outcomes and partnerships with sector partners.

Official government information about the 2014 BC budget may be found at

2014 THRONE SPEECH: Emphasis on Workforce Plan for Disabled

February 11, 2014
Legislative Assembly - Victoria

This spring the government will seek to connect British Columbians with opportunities through a 10-year skills training action plan for youth and older works seeking to retrain.  British Columbians can look forward to enhancements to the Industry Training Authority, as well as the re-engineering of secondary and post-secondary institutions to ensure students have the skills for the jobs of the future.

Those about to enter the workforce, those already in the workforce who need to upgrade skills and those who have never been in the workforce - including and especially the disabled, single parents and First Nations will be entitled to participate in the skills training action plan.

BC's Lean Budget, Clark's final before May election

February 19, 2013

Legislative Assembly – Victoria

The BC Liberals, elected in 2001, will ask voters on May 14 of this year to keep them and Premier Clark in the government seat.

With today's budget representing the final annual fiscal plan before heading to the polls, one wonders how much of a pre-election budget this actually is. Alternatively, are BC's Liberals confident heading to the polls with their decade-plus track record in government. "More than a decade of prudent fiscal management has paid off for BC. We are in the enviable position of having a balanced budget," explained Minister of Finance Michael de Jong in a news release.

The 2013 Budget contains a few targeted tax increases (e.g.​. a temporary hike to the personal tax rate for those earning more than $150,000 per year; a $2 increase to the price of a carton of cigarettes) and a few targeted areas for increased spending, mainly in the health and social services for children and families.

BC's relatively high population of seniors should welcome the measure that will see generic drug prices drop to 25% of that for brand name drugs by April of this year, with another 20% reduction in April of 2014.

On the flipside, Medical Services Plan premiums (MSPs), similar to OHIP in Ontario, will increase by 4% January 2014 for two years, with the increase set to expire January 1, 2016.

By far, spending on the healthcare system and for programs and services for children received the lion’s share of spending increases.

Health expenditures see an additional $2.4 billion in this fiscal plan to support and protect programs. New measures for children focus on a one-time $1,200 grant for children born January 1, 2007 and later that will be deposited into an approved RESP. Finance Minister de Jong introduced an early childhood tax credit worth up to $660 per family per year. Additional monies are allocated for childcare spaces, childcare services and arts programs for kids.

Existing initiatives, such as the recently announced "Improving Care for BC Seniors: An Action Plan" and the Social Development Minister's Council on Employment and Accessibility, receive continued support.

Official government information about the 2013 BC budget may be found at

The Modification Trend Continues

Victoria - March 1, 2012 - Government Relations & Advocacy

BC Finance Minister, Honourable Kevin Fallon, delivered the 2012 budget of Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government on February 21st. Premier Clark took over the helm of the BC Liberals – and  as Premier of the Province – in March 2011.

The theme in this year's budget, not surprisingly, focuses on containing spending growth, finding alternative service delivery options, and deficit elimination by 2013 (as is required by provincial law).

This year’s budget proposes notable tax increases, modest spending announcements and the possible elimination of some of the Province’s assets.  Privatization of BC’s liquor distribution will be explored, as well as the introduction of a carbon tax and sin tax increases, specifically to tobacco products.

Where modest spending announcements have been made, one should note that these do not represent new monies; rather, most measures are a result of a re-allocation of contingency funds.

Minister Fallon announced $294 million over three years to individuals and families in need of income assistance (temporary, disability and supplementary).  Services to those with developmental disabilities will see a program enhancement of $144 million. And $6million over three years was allocated to providing communication tools and supports to assist young adults with several communication disabilities (which is about 90 clients).

The BC Training Tax Credit, which provides employers with refundable tax credits for salaries and wages for eligible apprentices, will see an increase of 50% for those with disabilities.

A cornerstone announcement in this budget is the BC Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit.  This would provide $1,000 annually (representing 10% of eligible expenditures) for home renovations of seniors aged 65 and older to modify their homes to increase independence and remain in their homes longer.  New legislation will be required to commence this program, but it is anticipated that both home owners and renters will be eligible, and modifications will include such items as wheelchair ramps, lifts, handrails, elevators, etc.

The legislation needed to create the BC Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit represents an opportunity for March of Dimes to engage with Committee Members and other MLAs after first reading of the Bill. 

The inclusion of a home modification measure, and its placement in this year’s budget as a cornerstone, also exemplifies the trend in several legislatures (e.g.. Alberta, Ontario, Ottawa, Nova Scotia) that increasingly views home modifications for seniors and people with disabilities as necessary additions to existing modification programs or new measures that recognizes a growing need. 

In addition to ensuring that March of Dimes participates in the upcoming Committee sessions in Victoria, and makes legislators aware of our highly successful Home and Vehicle Modification Program, there is an increasing need for us to consider a national framework for modifications in our national and local advocacy, and to be instrumental in coordinating such a dialogue. 

British Columbians head to polls not later than May 2013.
For more official details in the 2012 British Columbia Budget, visit:

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