All in all, the new provincial budget is good news. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air compared to what we’ve become accustomed to during the many years of the provincial Liberals. Here are some of the highlights for me.
First off is child care. The provincial NDP, with the Greens, have replaced the old early childhood tax benefit of $660 per child per year for children under the age of six with a new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit that now runs until the child is 18. This benefit starts in October 2020 and will provide families with one child up to $1,600 a year, with two children up to $2,600 a year, and with three children up to $3,400 a year. These are major improvements that will go a long way toward lifting families in need out of poverty.
Next up is great news for students — the complete elimination of all interest on B.C. student loans. This will help make post-secondary education more affordable for many. I sure wish it had been in effect when I racked up my student debt many years ago!
A final favourite of mine from this provincial budget is the climate action plan rebate program. Overall, the government has allocated nearly $1 billion in its CleanBC plan for action on climate change, but there are three parts to this program that are aimed at helping individuals.
The first offers families up to $14,000 for improving the energy efficiency of their homes by doing things like buying super-efficient furnaces that cut down on carbon emissions and their energy bills. The second part is a $107-million program offering incentives toward the purchase of a battery/electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. If you buy one of these, you’re now eligible for a rebate of up to $6000, which is quite significant. Finally, this budget offers an increased climate action tax credit of up to $400 per year, for each of the next three years for eligible families — a 14 percent increase to help offset the cost of the carbon tax.
Hats off to the NDP/Green alliance for a progressive budget that reduces poverty and improves the environment!