By Fran Yanor

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Finance Minister Carole James released the B.C. government’s 2020 Budget last week in Victoria. Here are a few highlights:

Finance Minister Carole James presented a summary of the 2020 Budget to the media last week in Victoria.//FRAN YANOR
  • As of Jan. 1, 2020, the provincial tax rate for individuals making $220,000 or more will increase from 16.8 to 20.5 percent. “We are asking those at the top to contribute a little bit more,” Finance Minister Carole James announced last week. According to James, British Columbians earning less than $140,000 pay among the lowest personal provincial income taxes in the country and income earners making up to $475,000 will pay the third lowest rates among the provinces.
  • Beginning in October, parents will begin receiving the BC Child Opportunity Benefit, which will work out to an annual benefit up to $1,600 for one-child families, $2,600 for families with two children, and $3,400 for families with three children.
  • As of July 1, sweetened carbonated beverages will be taxed at seven per cent “to address the health of young people” James said. Several other jurisdictions, including some countries in Europe, have introduced a similar so-called sugar tax as a measure to lower obesity levels and collect more revenue.
  • Over 2 years, 10,400 new licensed day care spaces will be created. According to James, 28,000 children already receive child care that costs less than $10/day. As well, more than 11,000 early child educators will get a wage increase this year.
  • Low and middle-income students attending degree, diploma and certificate post-secondary programs will qualify for up to $1,000 annually under the BC Access Grant. The new program will allow 40,000 students to up to $4000 in grants towards the cost of tuition, said James. The government also announced 2,900 new student spaces in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, and additional student housing at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and the College of New Caledonia Prince George campus.