The BC Government laid out its budget update Monday afternoon in the Victoria legislature, with an emphasis on its initial campaign promise of affordability.

The NDP have highlighted $681 million over the next three years into the education system for classroom resources and 3,500 new teacher positions, $208 million into rental housing construction of 1,700 units, and a $100-per-month increase to both income and disability assistance.

Finance Minister Carole James believes this budget will benefit the needs of the many, and outweigh the needs of the few.

“A budget that invests in people will also invest in a strong British Columbia, a province where people have the tools to thrive, provide for their families, develop skills, educate themselves and their children, and give back to their communities.”

The budget surplus totals to $246 million, and also features a 50% cut in MSP premiums with an ultimate goal of eliminating them by 2021.

The provincial government is also investing $290 million into the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, to help combat the current opioid and fentanyl epidemic.

James says the crisis has already taken too many lives.

“We’re adding another $32 million to help law enforcement and coroners respond to the emergency, and this funding will go towards supporting prevention treatment and recovery, as well as supporting law enforcement in their work to keep drugs off the street.”

She adds the wildfire situation and BC’s poverty rate are also big issues financially speaking.

“Just because they’re going to take time to resolve, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the first steps to begin to address them. This budget update is a start as we move towards a full budget in February because this is your money; you worked hard for it.”

The budget reading also included a corporate income tax increase from 11% to 12%, and a reduction in small business corporate income tax to two-percent.

However, the budget made no mention of a plan for $10-a-day childcare, a $400 renters credit, or a freeze in BC Hydro rates.

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