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B.C. budget 2016 promises PST review, tracking of foreign home ownership

B.C.'s Liberal government released its 2016 budget today, a document aimed at priming voters for a 2017 election. Here are 10 things you need to know.

Children exempted from paying MSP, property transfer tax exemption increased

B.C. Finance Minister Mike De Jong introduced the province's fourth consecutive balanced budget on Tuesday. (CBC)

B.C.'s Liberal government released its 2016 budget today, a document aimed at priming voters for a 2017 election.

Here are 10 things you need to know:

Housing affordability

1. The purchase of a newly built home valued at up to $750,000 will now be exempt from the property transfer tax, saving the buyer up to $13,000.

The measure will be funded through an increase in the property tax transfer rate on homes with a value above $2 million, from two to three per cent.

The budget calls for the tracking of foreign housing ownership. People buying homes will be required to disclose their citizenship. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

2. Tracking foreign ownership: people buying homes in B.C. will again be required to disclose their citizenship.

The data, which has not been collected since 1998, will be used to measure the impact of foreign investment on home prices. The government hasn't said what measures it might consider once the data is collected.

PST and MSP

3. A new commission will consider ways to modernize the existing sales tax, introduced in 1948. Of note, the review will not consider a return to the harmonized sales tax.

4. Changes to premiums that exempt children will save single-parent families a minimum of $864 per year, but many couples who earn $45,000 or more will pay $20 more per month.

Children in care

The government is promising in the 2016 budget to hire an additional 100 social workers. (Getty Images)

5. The Ministry of Children and Family Development will receive $217 million over three years.

Some of the funds will be used to help implement recommendations in the Plecas report and hire 100 additional social workers.

Prosperity fund

A $100 million B.C. prosperity fund will be created out of the 2015-16 budget surplus.

The government says it will be used to help eliminate the debt, invest in health care, education, transportation and family supports.

Other measures

6. Disaster prevention: $85 million will be spent to prevent wildfires through measures such as reforestation and habitat restoration. Another $55 million will go to emergency preparedness, such as flood protection in vulnerable communities.

7. Disability assistance: Everyone on disability will receive an increase of up to $77 per month in place of the existing transportation subsidies some receive, such as a $52 bus pass. Bus passes will now be optional. 

8. RESP grant: Eligibility for the one-time $1,200 grant to a child's Registered Education Savings Plan introduced in 2013 has been extended by a year. Children born on or after Jan. 1, 2006, are now eligible.

9. Home renovation tax credit: A program currently offered to seniors will also provide up to $1,000 per year for persons with disabilities to renovate their homes to improve accessibility.

10. Balanced budget: The budget will be balanced for the fourth year in a row.

About the Author

Megan Thomas

Reporter

Megan Thomas is a reporter for CBC in Victoria, B.C. She covers stories from around Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. Follow her on Twitter @meganTcbc.

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