Deficits and government spending highlight the 2023 British Columbia budget

VICTORIA — Here are highlights of the 2023 British Columbia budget presented Tuesday. All costs are over three years, unless otherwise stated:

$6.4 billion in new health spending, including $2.6 billion for health services such as cancer care, $1.1 billion to attract and retain family doctors, and more than $1 billion for mental health and addictions services. There’s also $875 million in 2023-2024 for COVID-19 measures.

$4.2 billion in new housing funding, including $1.7 billion to build more homes, $575 million for student housing, and more than $1.5 billion to reduce homelessness with modular homes and other measures.

Economic growth is forecast to fall from 2.8 per cent in 2022 to 0.4 per cent in 2023, before climbing to 1.5 per cent in 2024 and 2.4 per cent in 2025.

The 2022-2023 surplus is projected to be $3.6 billion. A series of deficits are then forecast: $4.2 billion in 2023-2024, $3.8 billion in 2024-2025, and $3 billion in 2025-2026.

$317 millionfor policing and BC Corrections, including the repeat offender program and a new special investigations and targeted enforcement program. A further $80 million is set to boost access to justice while $65 million is aimed at other public safety initiatives.

$119 million for free prescription contraception, starting April 1, making B.C. the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide free birth control.

$558 million to increase financial supports for recipients of income and disability assistance.

10 per cent increase in B.C. Family Benefit payments from July 2023, with single parents receiving a further boost of up to $500 per year.

The B.C. carbon tax will increase $15 per tonne each year until reaching $170 in 2030.

Climate action tax credits will be expanded, with a four-person family receiving a maximum of $900 a year, up from $500.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

The Canadian Press