By: Simon Gibson, MLA Abbotsford-Mission
Budget 2016 – which was presented by local MLA and Finance Minister Michael de Jong – is a result of sound fiscal management and pragmatic decision-making. By promoting and guiding economic growth in our province, we are able to invest $1.6 billion of new and increased spending over the next three years.
Some of the significant investments highlighted in Budget 2016 includes new and expanded services to help families and individuals with their cost of living, as well as measures to bolster and protect communities across the province.
In fact, new capital spending will benefit us right here in Abbotsford and Mission: a significant portion of the $55 million allocated will increase our emergency preparedness and prevention initiatives. We can upgrade our dikes and other flood-protection infrastructure to keep us safe and avoid a natural disaster.
Agriculture is a key economic driver in our area and provides a rewarding livelihood for thousands in our community. There is a new Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Credit – now in effect – that is worth 25 per cent of qualifying agricultural products donated to a registered charity providing food to those in need or help support a school meal plan.
We are also taking steps to support British Columbia’s families. All children will be exempt from Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums directly benefiting about 70,000 single-parent families. Premium assistance will be expanded, reducing payments for 335,000 people across the province, helping seniors, families and individuals.
To help families save for their children’s education, we are expanding the eligibility for the BC Training and Education Savings Grant program to children born on or after Jan. 1, 2006. This program provides a one-time $1,200 grant to the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) that families can set up for their children. This expansion will give 40,000 additional children the opportunity to save for their future education.
I am proud to say that B.C. remains in a good position with steady economic growth despite a fragile global economy. We are able to provide increased funding for services and help ease the cost of living for British Columbians.
Thank you for reading my Patrika column. I look forward to sharing with you again in about a month. And thanks to the Editor for this opportunity.