The Premier spent 15 minutes tonight outlining his plan to address the economic crisis in North America. We will have more on this story shortly.
Premier Campbell outlined 10 key measures during his address:
1. Unlimited deposit insurance for deposits to credit unions: The Province intends to provide unlimited deposit insurance protection on deposits to British Columbia’s credit unions effective immediately. Deposits at credit unions were formerly insured up to a level of $100,000. All credit unions in the province have deposit insurance through the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation. The new protection will apply to deposits currently covered by this insurance. This brings B.C. in line with Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, PEI, and New Brunswick, which all also provide unlimited provincial deposit insurance protection. Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland cover $250,000. Ontario provides $100,000 per registered account.
2. A new pension opportunity: The Province will create a new private sector pension opportunity for British Columbians who currently have no access to a pension plan. About 75 per cent of private sector workers in B.C. currently have no access to a group pension plan. Flowing from work done with the Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards with Alberta, in the months ahead the government will spearhead the creation of a privately financed, defined contribution plan that will be available to employers, employees and self-employed people on a voluntary basis.
3. An accelerated, retroactive personal income tax cut: There will be a five per cent personal income tax reduction retroactive to January 1, 2008. This includes the two per cent tax cut that took effect July 1 of this year as well as the planned three per cent reduction that was to take effect January 1, 2009. Taxpayers will see the retroactive benefit on their 2008 tax return. It will put an additional $144 million in the pockets of British Columbians.
4. School property tax rebate for industry: 50 per cent of all school property taxes will be rebated to light and heavy industry to help some of B.C.’s oldest and largest employers, particularly in rural British Columbia. It will save industry about $115 million over the next three years and is on top of the approximately $24 million in annual benefits to heavy industry announced in the 2008 budget. This builds on the plan to have the lowest corporate income tax rate in Canada by 2011.
5. Accelerated tax relief for small business: Effective December 1, 2008 the small business income tax rate will be reduced to 2.5 per cent from the current 3.5 per cent. Small business income tax rates were already reduced from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent on July 1, 2008 with a plan to reduce them to 2.5 per cent by 2011. This will accelerate that tax cut by two years, resulting in a 44 per cent tax cut for small business this year alone. The savings to small business will be $146 million over three years.
6. Double commission paid to business for PST and HRT collection: The Province will double the commission it pays business for collecting the provincial sales tax and hotel room tax. That will provide more than 100,000 businesses with approximately $60 million over three years and add up to $1,200 to a business’s bottom line.
7. Accelerated public infrastructure: The Province will accelerate public investments in capital infrastructure projects. Funding will focus on projects without a long lead time that will keep people employed in our construction sector.
8. 33 per cent reduction in ferry fares for December and January: The Province will fund a 33 per cent reduction of ferry fares on all routes for December and January. This is on top of the upcoming 50 per cent reduction in the fuel surcharge on ferry fees that will come into effect November 4. In addition, ferry service levels for all routes, including the Sunshine Coast will be restored. This will require a one-time, $20-million investment.
9. Rein in avoidable government spending: The Province will re-evaluate spending priorities and focus on scaling back unbudgeted increases.
10. Recall the Legislature: As a number of these measures require legislative approval, the Legislature will be recalled on November 20.