B.C. Liberals say they’ve been using the surplus money from the provincial government’s tax credits to pay for infrastructure and schools.
It’s a strategy that will save the province $100 million over the next 10 years.
But it’s not a plan that will be widely accepted.
Opposition parties have been pushing the Liberals to do more to support local communities and businesses, and a study published in February found the Liberals had a significant impact on employment and economic growth.
A spokesman for Finance Minister John Horgan said the Liberals are making the $100-million a part of their 2017 budget, and the $20-million for infrastructure spending is part of the new provincial budget.
The Liberal party is also spending $6.6-million on a new “community-based investment bank” to provide loans to small businesses.
The Liberals say the $50-million to $70-million in infrastructure and education funding will be available to every person living in British Columbia.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to support the creation of good-paying jobs and economic prosperity,” Horgan’s office said in a statement.
The new Liberal budget, which is scheduled to be tabled on Tuesday, says the government is “reopening” B.c.’s provincial unemployment insurance system and will invest $1.8-billion over four years to create the BC Opportunities Fund, which will be administered by the Department of Finance.
The program will help provide up to $150,000 per person to low-income people in need.
The fund will help them get back on their feet, which should be a major boon for many of the province’s struggling residents.
In its budget, the Liberal government says it will “rebuild the skills gap,” by investing $50 million to upgrade education infrastructure in B.ca, by increasing the provincial sales tax by 0.7 per cent to encourage businesses to expand, and by increasing funding for public transit.
Horgan says the $1-billion is being allocated in the budget to help build roads, bridges, transit, public transit facilities and other public infrastructure.
The province’s unemployment insurance program, which began in April, is still $3.5-billion short of its goal of $4.2-billion.
It has been the subject of several controversies, including the $300-million salary freeze that began in September, and allegations of corruption by former Liberal premier Christy Clark.
The party has been criticized for not paying its employees, and has also faced criticism for not implementing a new provincial retirement plan.
The government says its new plan will be implemented by the end of 2019.
“The BC Liberals have been transparent about their plan for infrastructure investments,” Horzynak said.
“This new plan is a good start to helping BC become a leader in infrastructure, but we will continue working to invest in BC to create good-wage jobs and good-pay opportunities.”