Finance Minister Carole James presents details of her first budget update in Victoria Monday. (Tom Fletcher/

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS: MSP applications dropped

Tax increases coming for wealthy, breaks for business

The B.C. government is going ahead with a 50 per cent cut to Medical Services Plan premiums at the start of 2018, and the application process is being scrapped to make it easier for individuals and employers.

Finance Minister Carole James said the B.C. Liberal plan to cut the rate only for families earning up to $120,000 a year was “unworkable,” requiring people to share their tax information and employers to manage the private information.

“We felt that the cleanest, straightforward direction was to have no requirement to apply,” James said.

Monday’s NDP budget also increases the income threshold by $2,000 before MSP payments take effect. That means a single individual pays no premiums until income reaches $26,000 a year, and a couple with two children can earn up to $35,000 before partial premiums take effect.

James said MSP premiums are to be eliminated entirely within four years, as the NDP promised in its election platform, with a task force to be set up to replace the revenue.

Carbon, income tax increases coming

B.C.’s carbon tax on fuels is going up by 17 per cent on April 1, and the revenue neutrality law is being changed so the NDP government can spend some of the revenues on transit, home energy retrofits and other green projects.

Finance Minister Carole James said in a budget update Monday that the low-income carbon tax credit is also being increased 17 per cent, with maximum annual amounts going up to $135 per adult and $40 per child.

Effective April 1, personal income tax goes up two per cent on income over $150,000 a year, restoring an increase put in place by the B.C. Liberals before the 2013 election and removed two years later. The corporate tax rate rises one point to 12 per cent, in a package of changes proposed in the NDP election platform.

The small business tax rate goes down a half point to two per cent, and the NDP government is going ahead with a B.C. Liberal promise to remove provincial sales tax from business electricity bills. A 50 per cent cut takes effect this fall, and the rest is to be removed in April 2019. PST is not charged on residential electricity bills, and B.C. is one of few places where the tax applies to business bills.

Just Posted

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

Cowichan in national spotlight with Hometown Hockey

Rogers Hometown Hockey is a two-day festival that culminates with a national broadcast Sunday

VIDEO: World-renowned urban planner encourages Cowichan Valley to ‘benchmark with the best’

CVRD welcomes Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 8 80 Cities, as part of Place-Making Speaker Series

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP member poses as construction worker to catch distracted motorists

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are taking action on distract driving this year and… Continue reading

VIU’s Cowichan campus promotes mental health awareness with new bench

Friendship Benchs visible at schools across the country

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

UPDATE: City of Nanaimo senior manager dismissed

Chief operations officer Brad McRae no longer employed by the city

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read