Budget

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James introduced the provincial budget earlier this week

We assess how different people/things and, of course, businesses fared this week

Two months into 2020, and British Columbians have collectively made the switch from checking the news to see if snow is going to derail their transportation plans to checking to see if protestors will do it instead. 

Is that progress?

Speaking of progress and questioning whether it’s happening, here’s a lazy segue into talking about the recently announced provincial budget for 2020.

Was it good? Was it bad? Did it more or less stay the course?

You’ll have to read on to find out! (But yeah, mostly the latter.)

Here’s what made the grade (and what didn’t) this week in our all-budget edition of the BCB Report Card.

Parents

Grade: B+

Child care is still a tremendous challenge in this province, but the BC Child Opportunity Benefit (announced last budget and set to launch in October) will help some 290,000 families in the province save $1,600 (one child) and $2,600 (two children).

Students

Grade: B

Sure, the new “need-based” grant for low- to middle-income post-secondary students helps at least a bit. But about 40,000 students will be eligible for up to $4,000 a year for programs under two years in length and up to $1,000 a year for those two years and over.

It’s not nothing, and everything helps when you’re struggling through paying for school. But it’s nothing to praise the heavens for, either.

The BC NDP

Grade: B

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade called it a “status quo” budget. That’s a decent way of putting it. But the fact that the NDP (the NDP!) is set to post budget surpluses of $227 million in 2020-21, $179 million in 2021-22 and $374 million in 2022-23 is a pretty solid way of giving your supposedly financially savvy opposition a whole lot of nothing to complain about.

The BC Liberals

Grade: C

Of course, they still tried. The party tried to tag tax increases across the board as bad, even if they were aimed at massive corporations like Netflix and things we should generally move away from as a society, like sugary drinks.

With the next provincial election less than two years away, it still doesn’t feel like the Liberals have done much to permeate the electoral consciousness. And they won’t even be able to complain about deficits come campaign time.

Curiously, the Liberals didn’t complain about the $11 million set aside for an inquiry into money laundering in the province.

The very rich

Grade: C

Look, we’re sure most very rich British Columbians probably had a fine week playing croquet in Palm Springs. But if they were seeking something new to be outraged over (bet is on yes, they were), those making more than $220,000 a year got what they wished for, in the form of an income tax increase from 16.8 percent to 20.5 percent.

That’s an extra $2,960 for someone making $300,000. Or about 50 ounces of caviar.

Pop drinkers

Grade: C–

We get it: few things beat a cold can of Coca-Cola on a hot day. But adding PST to sweetened, carbonated drinks feels like a pretty reasonable step, given that we generally acknowledge the harm caused by allowing them to be teenagers’ main source of hydration.