Budget 2024: Taking action for people, families in B.C. (flickr.com)

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Helping people with everyday costs

B.C. is a great place to live, but global inflation has made life more expensive for everyone.

The B.C. government is helping people with everyday costs, including delivering more affordable homes, reducing the cost of child care, providing more meals and snacks in schools and boosting skills training so people can access good-paying jobs. Budget 2024 builds on this foundation by keeping more money in people’s pockets during tough times.

  • More families with children will get more help with costs. Families will see a 25% increase to their monthly BC Family Benefit, with $248 million for a one-year BC Family Benefit Bonus, starting in July 2024.
    • A family of four would receive up to $2,850 per year and with the bonus will now receive as much as $3,563.
    • A single parent with one child would receive up to $2,250 and will now receive as much as $2,688 per year.
    • On average, families will receive $445 more.
    • More families will benefit. Approximately 66,000 more families, or 25% more, will receive the benefit and the bonus this year. A total of 340,000 families will benefit during the 12-month period.
  • People in British Columbia will get a break on their electricity bill, thanks to a one-time, year-long BC Electricity Affordability Credit.
    • Households will save an average of $100 on their bills over the course of the year, depending on their power usage.
    • Commercial and industrial customers will also receive savings up to 4.6% of their electricity consumption. The average small business will save $400 over the course of the year.
    • People and businesses will see the credit on each monthly bill starting in April 2024.
  • Individuals and families will also see an increase to their quarterly climate action tax credit payments this year.
    • 100% of revenue from the carbon-tax increase will be directed to the climate action tax credit.
    • If a family of four received $890 last year, they will receive $1,005, and an individual that received $447 last year will receive $504 starting in July 2024.
    • The number of people receiving the credit increases annually, with a goal to reach 80% of households in B.C. by 2030.
    • A majority of British Columbians are projected to receive more through the enhanced credit than they pay in carbon tax by 2030.
  • Budget 2024 answers calls from growing businesses by doubling the exemption threshold of the Employer Health Tax, from $500,000 to $1 million. With this change, 90% of businesses will be exempt from the tax, estimated to save them more than $100 million a year.
  • Starting in 2024, as people file their 2023 income taxes, renters will see up to $400 come back to them through the B.C. renter’s tax credit.

The Province continues to take action to lower people’s net taxes and costs, including through tax credits and benefits, building on the elimination of taxes like medical service plan premiums: news.gov.bc.ca/files/Net_Provincial_Taxes.pdf

Delivering more homes for people, faster

People want a decent home they can afford in a community they love. With inflation and day-to-day cost-of-living pressures, finding affordable housing is challenging for too many people. The B.C. government is leading the country in finding solutions to the widespread housing crisis and taking action to deliver more homes that are within reach for people, by:

  • reining in the out-of-control short-term rental market;
  • expanding the Speculation and Vacancy Tax;
  • fixing restrictive and outdated zoning rules;
  • turning more land and areas near transit hubs into homes for people;
  • making sure secondary suites can be built in every community in B.C.;
  • cutting down long wait times at the Residential Tenancy Branch; and
  • protecting renters by:
    • capping rent increases well below inflation;
    • providing an annual $400 renter’s tax credit; and
    • making sure affordable rentals stay on the market through the Rental Protection Fund.


BC Home Flipping Tax

As part of the Homes for People plan, and to discourage speculators from driving up prices, Budget 2024 introduces the new BC Home Flipping Tax, effective Jan. 1, 2025. This will be a tax on the profit made from selling a residential property within two years of buying it, with specific exemptions for life circumstances, such as divorce, death, illness and relocation for work, among others. Revenue from the tax will go directly to building affordable housing throughout B.C.

Property Transfer Tax exemptions

For many, buying a home is the largest purchase they will ever make, and property prices are making it harder. Every little bit helps, and Budget 2024 aims to give people the financial boost they need to bring buying a home within reach, including:

  • Increases to the threshold for the First Time Homebuyers’ Program so it reflects today’s market:
    • Qualifying first-time buyers can benefit when they purchase a home worth up to $835,000, with the first $500,000 completely exempt from the property transfer tax. That could mean as much as $8,000 in savings.
  • An estimated 14,500 people – twice as many as before – will now be eligible for support to buy their first home, helping them move out of the rental market and freeing up rentals for others.
  • People buying newly built homes worth up to $1.1 million will also see lower costs through the newly-built-home exemption.

To help lower the cost and encourage the construction of more rental units, eligible purpose-built rental buildings of four or more units will also receive a property transfer tax exemption until 2030.

Raising these property transfer tax exemption thresholds and incentivizing building of new rentals and homes will save more people more money, an estimated $100 million per year.

The private sector alone has not been able to deliver the homes middle-income British Columbians need. Through government initiatives that help people buy a home, the Province is helping free up more rental homes for people, alleviating pressures and, therefore, bringing down costs.

BC Builds

Budget 2024 reinforces the Homes for People plan with $198 million in new funding for BC Builds. This will support the program to speed up the development of new housing that fits the budgets of middle-income people and families.

BC Builds uses government-owned, public and underused land and lower government borrowing rates to offer low-cost financing to bring down construction costs and deliver more middle-income housing for people. It also works with local governments, landowners, homebuilders and housing operators to move projects from concept to construction within 12 to 18 months, compared to the current average of three to five years. These new units will be income-tested and will ensure that the people who keep B.C. communities thriving can find homes they can afford.

Housing support

Over the past year, the Province has prioritized new initiatives centred on delivering thousands more good homes for people where they’re needed most. Budget 2024 is supporting these existing programs and services with $116 million more in funding. Funding will also maintain more than 500 permanent and temporary shelter spaces in communities throughout B.C.

Since 2017, the Province has more than 78,000 homes delivered or underway as a result of continued investments and other housing initiatives.

Strengthening health care and the services people rely on
Updated Feb. 22, 2024

A stronger B.C. for everyone means delivering the services people rely on and supporting a growing population. Budget 2024 provides $8 billion over three years to strengthen health care, kindergarten-to-Grade 12 education, justice and public safety, and help for people who need care and support.

Health care

With the population growing and aging, and a large segment of doctors and nurses retiring in the next decade, more people are needed to fill those jobs and help meet the demands of the health-care system. Budget 2024 provides more than $2 billion to support people’s access to the full range of health services, including primary and acute care, long-term care, assisted living, home care, and mental-health and substance-use care, and recruitment and retention of health-care professionals.

Capital investments of $13 billion over the next three years will support the construction of long-term care, acute care and cancer care facilities.

Cancer care

Demand for cancer treatment has increased and B.C.’s 10-Year Cancer Action Plan is ensuring more patients get the treatments they need. To build on this, Budget 2024 invests $270 million to deliver treatments and strengthen prevention and screening services, such as HPV vaccines and cervical and hereditary cancer screenings. Cancer care centres are on the way for Surrey, Burnaby, Nanaimo and Kamloops to provide better care closer to home.

Home and community care services for seniors

To support seniors’ quality of life and enable them to live in their own homes longer, Budget 2024 provides $354 million to ensure seniors can continue to access the services they count on, even as demand increases, through:

  • $227 million for home health-care services to help with daily activities such as bathing, grooming, lifts and transfers, and nutrition. These services would be provided by regulated professionals, including nurses, occupational and physical therapists, and social workers.
  • $127 million for community-based services, such as Better at Home, which supports seniors with day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping, light housekeeping, minor home repairs, snow shoveling, and transportation to and from medical appointments.

In-vitro fertilization

  • No one should be denied the opportunity to have a child because of how much money they make, who they love and whether they have a partner. However, many people can’t conceive without help. Starting in April 2025, B.C. will launch a new publicly funded in-vitro fertilization program, funding both treatment and medication for a single cycle. A total of $68 million is allocated in Budget 2024.

Mental health and addictions

From climate emergencies to the COVID-19 pandemic and the toxic-drug crisis, people have been through a lot in recent years, and that has increased demand for mental-health programs and services. Budget 2024 continues to build on the Province’s work to expand services and break the stigma that prevents people from calling for help:

  • $117 million to continue funding more than 2,200 community mental-health and substance-use treatment beds at more than 300 health authority and community care facilities;
  • $49 million to support existing harm-reduction initiatives at 49 overdose-prevention sites, drug checking and naloxone kit distribution;
  • $39 million to fund existing Peer-Assisted Care Teams and Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Teams; and
  • $10 million to support the development and implementation of treatment and recovery programs.

Through the Province’s capital plan, additional funding will support treatment and recovery beds, including work to expand the Red Fish Healing model.

K-12 education

Schools had historic enrolment growth in 2023, with 13,000 more students. Budget 2024 invests $968 million for more staff in classrooms to support this growth. Through this funding, students will also be better supported with $255 million for the Classroom Enhancement Fund to hire more teachers, including special education teachers, teacher psychologists and counsellors.

A record $4.2 billion is dedicated to build, renovate, and seismically upgrade schools and playgrounds over the next three years as part of the Province’s capital plan.

Justice and public safety

Budget 2024 invests $398 million to help keep people safe and communities strong. New investments will better support families with access to the justice system by expanding the early resolution model and legal aid services. The early resolution model helps divert family law cases to mediation to improve timely resolution and also helps reduce the amount of family law cases that proceed to court. Funding for legal-aid services will help establish a new family law clinic dedicated to families experiencing family violence and expand access to legal-aid services to help serve thousands more families each year.

Additional funding will also support a variety of public safety programs, such as correction centres, the BC Coroners Service, and RoadSafetyBC programs.

Help for people who need care and support

Budget 2024 protects and strengthens supports for children and youth in care or with support needs. This includes $114 million for children in alternative care arrangements and will improve front-line support in the child welfare system with new staff, including roots workers, who support Indigenous children and youth.

New funding of $30 million over three years will better support children with dyslexia and related learning differences in the K-12 school system. It will support early literacy screening for kindergarten to Grade 3 students, better equip teachers and support staff with professional development, and provide additional intervention and outreach programs. Once the program is fully rolled out, it is expected approximately 9,000 students per year will benefit from the new supports.

New funding of $26 million will support 2,800 more children and youth with an autism diagnosis or complex health needs, for a total of 28,000 children and youth in 2024-25. This funding will also help families access eligible services and supports that promote skills development as part of the Medical Benefits program.

An additional $105 million to Community Living BC will improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and their families, helping clients access services and support to manage daily activities.

Building a stronger, cleaner economy that works better for people

Budget 2024 provides $1.3 billion for new measures to help mitigate and better respond to the impacts of climate emergencies, build a cleaner economy and address the challenges people are facing right now.

Responding to climate emergencies

From record flooding in 2021, to unprecedented drought and wildfire in 2023, B.C. has experienced first-hand the impacts of climate change. Government is investing a total of

$405 million more over four years to bolster the province’s capacity to prepare for and respond to future climate emergencies.

This includes $154 million in operating and $21 million in capital funding to support additional wildfire response, recovery and infrastructure resources following B.C.’s record wildfire season in 2023. Funding includes:

  • $56 million for aviation preparedness and response through increased contract funding for helicopter and air tanker services;
  • $60 million for the Forest Enhancement Society of BC to continue industry and community focused wildfire risk reduction and fuel management;
  • $38 million to support stable, year-round resourcing, including fire crew leaders and front-line staff, who provide structure protection, prevention and risk reduction, and wildfire land-based recovery; and
  • $21 million for a new Prince George equipment depot.

Budget 2024 also broadens support for evacuees to get the services and support they need with call-centre and on-site staff. The budget includes $18 million to boost year-round delivery of response and recovery programs, such as supporting provincial and regional operations centres and better co-ordinating vital communications that alert residents to imminent hazards and evacuation orders.

Priority infrastructure projects and programs to decrease flood risks and strengthen drought resiliency will receive $234 million, including:

  • $83 million to expand the Agriculture Water Infrastructure Program to help more farmers and ranchers effectively manage, collect, transport and store water for agriculture and irrigation purposes – ensuring food sources for people and livestock are secure;
  • $50 million for water metering pilot programs in 21 communities throughout B.C. that will inform the feasibility of establishing a universal water-metering program with the aim of better conserving water, identifying leaks, and educating users about their actual water use;
  • $77 million to upgrade the Barrowtown pump station in Abbotsford;
  • $14 million to help replace the 50-year-old Cowichan Lake Weir; and
  • $10 million to increase the water storage capacity and better sustain the required environmental water flow of Saint Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island by raising the dam height.

CleanBC and advancing the clean economy

B.C. continues to lead on climate action and sustainable job growth through the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. Budget 2024 reaffirms the Province’s commitment with $318 million to continue to fund grant and rebate programs for clean transportation, energy-efficient buildings and communities, and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Another $93 million will help people and communities reduce emissions:

  • $40 million for additional heat pump rebates for households with low and middle incomes to provide access to affordable, clean energy;
  • $20 million for active transportation grants to communities;
  • $30 million to continue the implementation of electric vehicle public charging infrastructure; and
  • $3 million to support youth involvement in climate-action initiatives.

Earlier this year, the Province launched the first phase of a new made-in-B.C. Critical Minerals Strategy to build a clean economy by expanding the critical minerals sector in alignment with the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Budget 2024 helps lay the foundation for this work with $24 million to support collaboration with First Nations, industry, local governments and the public and ensure adequate resources for mine permitting.

Strengthening an inclusive economy

Budget 2024 establishes enabling tools to help support equity financing opportunities for First Nations. These tools include provincial equity loan guarantees and other supports through a new First Nations Equity Financing Framework. The framework will assist First Nations in pursuing self-determined participation in important projects across a broad range of sectors. As the framework takes shape through consultation and co-operation with First Nations, the B.C. government will also engage business leaders across B.C. to inform development of the framework. This is one more way that government is building a better, more equitable future where First Nations have opportunities to share the benefits of projects in their territories.

Eleven First Nations communities that rely on five forest service roads for primary access will see improved safety with nearly $24 million over four years in road maintenance funding in Budget 2024.

Supporting self-determination

The Province has been partnering with Modern Treaty Nations to co-develop measures that better support self-determination in B.C.’s modern treaty arrangements. As a result of this collaborative work, Budget 2024 lays out a new approach for assessment and property taxation on Modern Treaty Nations’ core governance lands that puts exclusive decision-making for most property interests on Nisga’a Lands and Treaty Lands into the hands of Modern Treaty Nations and enables them to design approaches that best reflect their unique circumstances.

Critical transportation networks and community infrastructure

The Province is investing more than $15.5 billion from the capital plan over the next three years, to deliver the transit and transportation infrastructure to keep people and goods moving forward.

Continued priority projects include:

  • Highway 1 projects through the Fraser Valley and from Kamloops to the Alberta border; major infrastructure projects like the Fraser River Tunnel project and the Pattullo Bridge; and transit projects like the Broadway Subway and the Surrey Langley SkyTrain.
  • $248 million for BC Transit to expand infrastructure to support increased service and ensure the efficiency of the province’s transit system to reduce traffic congestion and support reliable, safe and affordable transit for people in B.C.

To support economic growth and development, $250 million over five years will support the 21 local governments that make up the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance. These communities are primarily rural and remote with small populations, but are relied upon to support an influx of new industry and workers. Funding will support planning and construction of municipal infrastructure, such as roads, water sewer and other community facilities needed to create livable communities.

Future Ready

Budget 2024 provides $228 million over three years to sustain programs under the Province’s StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan. Launched in 2023, the plan is helping thousands of people get the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy and help close the skills gap many businesses are facing. Students, employees, businesses, and employers throughout the province are benefiting from the action plan.

Building a stronger B.C.

Taxpayer-supported capital spending over the fiscal plan is forecast at nearly $43.3 billion to sustain and expand provincial infrastructure, such as schools, post-secondary facilities, housing, health-care facilities and transportation projects, including highway improvements, landslide cleanup and prevention, and bridge repairs replacements. Through the province’s capital plan and these projects, 185,000 jobs will be directly or indirectly created over the next three years.

Fiscal Plan 2024-25 – 2026-27

Budget 2024 invests $13 billion more in operating funding across the fiscal plan to support new priority measures and to ensure services continue to be there for people as B.C.’s population grows and ages.

Budget outlook

With a slowing economy and increasing needs, Budget 2024’s three-year fiscal plan includes a

$7.9-billion deficit that declines to $6.3 billion by 2026-27.

The budget and fiscal plan provides significant contingencies for emergent costs, future priorities and caseload pressures, with $3.9 billion in 2024-25, $3 billion in 2025-26 and $3.7 billion in 2026-27.

Economic outlook

In 2023, B.C.’s economy posted modest growth, softening due to high interest rates, slowing domestic and global economic activity, and geopolitical and climate-related disruptions. Similar to other jurisdictions, modest growth is also expected in 2024, with real GDP expanding by 0.8%.

Economic growth is expected to rise in 2025 to 2.3%, supported by steady employment and wage growth, gains in consumer spending, solid investment activity, and higher exports as global economies recover from the slowdown. Over the medium term (2026 until 2028), real GDP growth is expected to range between 2.3% and 2.4% annually.

Budget 2024 real GDP growth projections are within the range of forecasts provided by the 13 members of the independent Economic Forecast Council.

Revenue outlook

Total government revenue is forecast at $81.5 billion in 2024-25, $82.8 billion in 2025-26 and $86.4 billion 2026-27. Revenue growth is driven by a growing tax base due to population growth, as well as economic growth and increasing revenues from the natural-resource sector.

Expense outlook

Expenses over the three-year fiscal plan are forecast at $89.4 billion in 2024-25, $90.6 billion in 2025-26, and $92.7 billion in 2026-27. Investments will help support the programs and services people rely on and includes strategic investments in health care, mental health, housing, emergency preparedness and response, public safety, helping people with costs and building a stronger, cleaner economy that works better for people.

Debt affordability

B.C.’s taxpayer-supported debt is projected to be $71.9 billion at the end of 2023-24, approximately $3.8 billion less than projected at Budget 2023. Total provincial debt is expected to increase over the fiscal plan as the Province continues to invest in strengthening services and building more schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, transit and housing.

The taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio, a key metric used by credit rating agencies, is forecast at 21.0% in 2024-25, 24.8% in 2025-26 and 27.5% in 2026-27. B.C.’s debt-to-GDP ratio is below that of most provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. Despite high interest rates, B.C.’s debt-servicing costs remain at low levels historically and compared to other jurisdictions.