British Columbia

B.C. Budget 2015: what’s in it for families?

Single parents on income assistance can keep all of their child support payments beginning in September, the B.C. government announced in its budget Tuesday.

Government pledges help for single parents, tax relief for children’s sports equipment

Christy Clark suprised many when she led the Liberals to another election win, in part on the strength of a families first agenda. (CBC)

Single parents on income assistance will be able keep all of their child support payments beginning in September, the B.C. government announced in its budget Tuesday.

The announcement will cost the government about $32 million over the next three years and will benefit about 3,200 families, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said.

"Starting in September, parents receiving both income and disability assistance and child support payments … will be able to keep every dollar they receive in child support," de Jong said.

The announcement is not a surprise, as the government hinted strongly last month it would end its practice of subtracting a portion of child support payments from income or disability payments. The announcement also falls within the premier’s "families first" agenda.

Tax credits

Families will also be able, for the first time, to access a new sports equipment tax credit of up to $250, for everything from bicycles to goalie pads. Parents do not have to submit receipts.

But the credit is actually much smaller than it sounds. Parents will only receive a benefit of a maximum $12.65 per child, and the program will cost the government just $3 million.

The benefit is the continuation of a trend for the B.C. government, which also offers a $500 children’s fitness and arts credit – worth a total of $25.30 per child.

Childcare benefit

Starting this year, families will also be able to access a previously announced $660 childcare tax benefit for families who earn up to $100,000 per year, and a partial credit for those earning up to $150,000.

"When combined with federal benefits for families with children, a couple earning $60,000 with two children under six stand to receive an annual benefit of about $7,500," de Jong said.

Families will also be able to access a previously announced education grant of $1,200 this year, for children born after Jan. 1, 2007 who have an RESP.

Paying more

Families will also have to pay some increases this year, including up to an extra $6 per month for Medical Service Plan premiums, bringing the total to $150 dollars per month for families of three or more. Families of two people will pay an additional $5.50 for a total of $136.

People on assistance will not have to pay the increases, the government said.

For families who travel, the government quietly announced regional and municipal governments will be allowed to raise accommodation tax (hotel tax) to three percent, from two.

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