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It’s also been shaped with B.C.’s underprivileged in mind, according to Finance Minister Mike De Jong.

Additional funding of $106 million over three year is to be allocated for Community Living B.C., and $20 million in additional funding for income assistance programs, says Minister De Jong.

The budget also allows for individuals to earn more than $19,000 a year before paying any provincial income tax.

Child support payment will be exempted from the government’s “income assistance calculations” – said to benefit 3,200 B.C. families’ currently receiving income and disability assistance.

This is coupled with the B.C. Early Childhood Tax Benefit – up to $660 a year for each child under the age of 6 to help with the cost of child care.

Also available this year is the Training and Education Savings grant, which is a one-time payment of $1,200 for every child resident in B.C. who was born since January 1, 2007.

In terms of Healthcare, Minister De Jong says an increase of almost $3 billion will be allocated to the Ministry of Health over three years. He says additional funds will be spent on hospice service for children and adults.

The education sector is being provided with additional funding of $564 million over three years for Kindergarten – Grade 12, including a 33 per cent increase to the Learning Improvement Fund, as part of their collective agreement.

The B.C. government also plans to spend $10.7 billion over three years as part of their “new capital projects” investment.

Other key measures, according to Minister De Jong, include $6.3 million in new base-budget funding to support B.C.’s mining industry, $25 million over three years to implement the new Water Sustainability Act, “transitional incentives” over three years to encourage the B.C. cement industry to adopt cleaner fuels and further lower emission intensity, extending the Interactive Digital Media tax credit to 2018, helping B.C. businesses take advantage of Canada’s access to the Asian market, and partnering with the marine shipping industry to re-establish the International Maritime Centre.

B.C.’s GDP is forecasted to be 2.6 per cent in 2015 by the British Columbia Economic Forecast Council, while the government predict a GDP of 2.3 per cent in 2015.

Total taxpayer-supported debt is forecasted to be $6.5 billion in 2015, according to Minister De Jong’s prediction.

Downside risks to B.C.’s economic outlook, according to Minister De Jong include the potential for a slowdown in domestic and U.S. activity, ongoing fragility in Europe, and slower than anticipated Asian demand, particularly in China.

Minister De Jong says additional risks include a fluctuating Canadian dollar and weak inflation, in part due to lower oil prices.


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