VICTORIA – Highlights of British Columbia’s 2018-19 budget presented Tuesday:
— Effective Wednesday, a tax on foreign homebuyers increases by $5,000 to $20,000 and expands from Metro Vancouver to include homes in the Victoria-area, the Fraser Valley, the central Okanagan district in the province’s Interior, and the Nanaimo Regional District.
— A new speculation tax will be introduced in the fall aimed at foreign and domestic homeowners who don’t pay taxes in B.C., affecting properties in Metro Vancouver, the Victoria area, Fraser Valley, Nanaimo Regional District, Kelowna and West Kelowna.
— The property transfer tax on homes with a fair market value of more than $3 million increases to five per cent from three per cent.
— More than $6 billion will be spent over the next 10 years to create 114,000 housing units for families, seniors, students and women and children escaping domestic violence.
— Medical service plan premiums will be eliminated on Jan. 1, 2020, saving an individual up to $900 a year and families up to $1,800 annually.
— Starting Jan. 1, 2019, employers with payrolls of more than $500,000 will pay a new employer health tax, which is forecast to raise $1.9 billion in revenue in 2019-20.
— Beginning April 1, funding will be provided to licensed care providers to provide a $350 a month cut in the cost of a child care space.
— A new affordable child care benefit will start in September providing up to $1,250 a month per child.
— An additional $1 billion will be spent over the next three years to expand access to licensed child care, which the province says is part of its plan to create more than 22,000 new spaces.
— Fares will be frozen on BC Ferries’ three major routes and fares will be cut by 15 per cent on small routes.
— A forecast surplus of $219 million, with projections for surpluses to continue through the 2020-21 fiscal year.
— The government estimates it will spend $53.6 billion in the next fiscal year, up from an updated forecast of $51.8 billion for 2017-18.
— Economic growth for 2018 is forecast at 2.3 per cent, down from 3.4 per cent in 2017.