Clark prom­ises re­lief is com­ing

Premier says bud­get will aid tax­pay­ers but re­mains vague

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - VANCOUVER -

The B.C. gov­ern­ment says it is time to reap the fi­nan­cial re­wards of sus­tained bud­get sur­pluses, promis­ing tax­pay­ers Tues­day that they can ex­pect to see some re­lief in next week’s bud­get.

Premier Christy Clark said the bud­get will of­fer tax­pay­ers help with the fis­cal bur­dens they face, but she wasn’t say­ing much else about what’s com­ing, other than rul­ing out re­bate cheques.

“I want to find ways to give back to Bri­tish Columbians,” she told a news con­fer­ence af­ter the gov­ern­ment’s throne speech was de­liv­ered by Lt.Gov. Ju­dith Gui­chon on Tues­day. The bud­get will be the last be­fore this spring’s pro­vin­cial elec­tion. NDP Leader John Hor­gan saw the throne speech as a pitch for votes.

“As throne speeches go, this is one of the hol­low­est I’ve seen,” he said.

“It’s a good thing she didn’t say pay off be­cause that’s what it sounds like to me.”

He said the gov­ern­ment is plan­ning to of­fer Bri­tish Columbians some form of fi­nan­cial re­ward af­ter hit­ting them with years of in­creases for hy­dro, auto in­sur­ance and med­i­cal ser­vices pre­mi­ums. Clark’s gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to table its fifth con­sec­u­tive bal­anced bud­get next week.

In Novem­ber, the gov­ern­ment pro­jected a sur­plus of about $2.2 bil­lion for the 2016-17 fis­cal year.

Like many throne speeches, de­tails on the gov­ern­ment’s plans for the new leg­isla­tive ses­sion were vague.

“Af­ter years of sac­ri­fice by all of us in Bri­tish Columbia through chal­leng­ing times, work­ing to­gether with a plan, your gov­ern­ment is now in a po­si­tion to pay you back, to re­lieve some fi­nan­cial bur­dens and to in­vest in your house­hold,” it said.

The gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on bal­anced bud­gets, spend­ing con­trols and debt re­duc­tion has pro­duced grow­ing sur­pluses that give the prov­ince the abil­ity to do more for tax­pay­ers, the speech said.

Chad hipolito/thE CaNa­diaN pRESS

premier christy clark

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