April 1: B.C. Liberal government claims it’s making life more affordable

SO who do we believe about affordability?

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, said on Wednesday: “John Horgan, like his predecessors before him, always reads from the same script: ‘We’ll spend money on this, cash will be coming for this and don’t worry about the cost of that.’ But he never does say how he’ll pay for it.”

He added: “British Columbians deserve more than the NDP simply telling them what they think they want to hear. The public expects and deserves a government that says how it’s going to pay for things, a government that lives within its means and, when it can afford to, provides targeted support – not a leader who drifts with every gentle breeze.”

With three straight balanced budgets delivered for British Columbia, Ashton claimed the province is in a position to keep taxes low and help make life more affordable.

“Unfortunately, this put us in rare company – in B.C., we’ve already done the hard work that other provinces have put off or just begun,” said Ashton.

He claimed that B.C. families generally have one of the lowest overall tax burdens in Canada including income taxes, consumption taxes, property taxes, health care premiums and payroll taxes:

* Effective January 1, 2015, MSP premium assistance was enhanced to ensure those receiving assistance will not be affected by the premium increase. Nearly one million British Columbians receive MSP subsidies, including more than 800,000 residents who pay no MSP premiums at all.

* Effective April 1, the B.C. Early Childhood Tax Benefit is providing $146 million to approximately 180,000 families with children under six years old. Families with young children can receive up to $55 per child, per month

* The government has enhanced the B.C. tax reduction credit, benefiting about 500,000 lower-income taxpayers.

* The government has introduced a new Children’s Fitness Equipment Credit that will be set at 50 per cent of the amount claimed for the existing Children’s Fitness Credit, so parents won’t have to keep receipts for equipment.

* The government has extended the B.C. Training Tax Credit program through 2017, providing employers with an incentive to hire and train apprentices so trades workers can get the experience they need to support themselves and their families. As well, Ashton noted the government has moved to help single parents who receive income or disability assistance train for jobs that will help them become self-sufficient by launching the Single Parent Employment Initiative.

* Single parents on income and disability assistance will be able to continue to receive their income or disability assistance benefits during their training for up to 12 months providing the training is approved to fill a labour market niche; and

* Have their tuition and educational costs covered along with child care and transportation expenses where needed; and

* If needed, have help with child care costs for the first year of employment after training.

This new Single Parent Employment Initiative has the potential to lift 16,000 single parents – along with their 26,000 children – out of income assistance and into employment.

While the NDP will never say what they would do or how they would pay for things – they supported the Budget Implementation Act and all the real initiatives that will help British Columbians, noted Ashton.

“We’re taking real action to keep taxes low, keep life affordable and grow B.C.’s diverse economy. While the NDP go around making promises they can’t keep, B.C. Liberals are delivering responsible initiatives that will help British Columbians succeed and move up the income ladder,” said Ashton.