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Budget sends 'right message,' Langley MLA says

The 2012-13 provincial budget, tabled Tuesday in the B.C. Legislature, is “the right message for right now,” said Langley MLA Mary Polak.

The MLA, who is also minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, said its message of restraint is necessary, given that governments around the world are being closely watched by credit rating agencies.

“There is a high bar to meet. Credit rating agencies are watching us closely.”

Polak said that is why spending in many areas, including education, is being frozen. Health care, which is by far the biggest single line item in provincial budgets, will see a 3.2 per cent spending increase from 2012-13 to 2014-15, down substantially from the seven per  cent annual increases from 2005 to 2009.

“We don’t think we can get it (the rate of growth) down any more and do so responsibly,” shge said.

She defended the four per cent increases to Medical Service Plan premiums, which have risen by 22 per cent  in four years. The premiums are used to pay for health care, and Polak said “it is a matter of balancing where revenue comes in.” She said the boost will cost an average family about $5 per month.

The $10,000 grant to first-time buyers of new homes will serve to boost the building and sale of new homes. Combined with last Friday’s announcement that there will be no additional net HST on homes up to $850,000, it should do a great deal to stimulate the housing industry, she said.

“We looked at where we can target spending and provide relief,” she said. “We are trying to spur on increased growth in the housing market.”

A renovation tax credit for seniors is another targeted move, she said. Asked why it wasn't made available to all homeowners, Polak said the government believes the $1,000 credit to seniors “will have a broader impact.”

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