Labour costs shape B.C. budget

B.C. will balance its budget for a second straight year, despite a larger than usual contingency fund for labour costs

Finance Minister Mike de Jong got a favourite pair of shoes resoled and an extra hole drilled in his belt for budget day on Tuesday.

VICTORIA – B.C. will balance its budget for a second straight year, despite a larger than usual contingency fund for labour costs, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Monday.

De Jong wouldn’t comment directly on a January court decision in favour of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, which Education Minister Peter Fassbender has estimated could cost $1 billion over the coming years.

But de Jong said there are only two ways the government could cover unexpected labour costs without going back into deficit.

“One is to ask the taxpayers for more money, and we’re not prepared to do that,” de Jong said. “And the second is that it comes from somewhere else in the budget.”

Government lawyers filed in the B.C. Court of Appeal Friday for a stay of provisions that would force school districts to return to staffing rules in place in 2001. Its submission said the ruling would cost Surrey school district $40 million in the first year, with similar financial impacts on all 60 districts.

Affidavits from school district superintendents around the province said the ruling would involve construction of portables, reorganization of classes, cancellation of special needs, preschool and child care programs and other disruptions.

De Jong said the 2013-14 budget surplus is “modestly ahead” of the forecasts, and no major tax changes are coming this year. For the fiscal year that begins April 1, he expects B.C. and Saskatchewan to be the only provinces with balanced budgets.

 

Just Posted

Trans Canada Highway opened again near Sicamous

Motor vehicle incident on Highway 1 between Sicamous and Malakwa closed road after 6 p.m.

Air support grounded as fires fill the skies with smoke

Heavy smoke throughout the region thwarted efforts of BC Wildfire Saturday, as… Continue reading

Musicians share stories at Salmon Arm Roots and Blues

Festival sees several artists delving into the tales behind the music

In Photos: Roots and Blues 2018 day one

Michael Franti and the Lil Smokies lit up the main stage to close out a day filled with great music

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

West Kelowna wildfire evacuation alert rescinded

Alert rescinded Saturday for properties near four lakes within the Gottfriedsen Mountain wildfire

Column: Mourning doves upset morning routines

James Murray/The Great Outdoors

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Key to the SOEC 2017 winner grateful for experience

Petersen discusses what it’s like to win a year of free concerts at the SOEC

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Most Read