A Breakdown of the 2024 BC Budget

Advocates express concerns over limited investment and ongoing challenges

Yasmine Elsayed (she/her) // Contributor
Jacob Schoenherr (he/him) // Illustrator

On Feb. 22, 2024, British Columbia unveiled its 2024 Budget, designed to alleviate everyday costs, expedite housing solutions, fortify healthcare services and cultivate a strong, sustainable economy.

“With Budget 2024, we’re tackling head-on the significant issues confronting individuals and families across the province,” said Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy in a February 22 news release. “From urban centers to rural communities and Indigenous territories, our focus remains steadfast on ensuring decent, affordable housing, quality healthcare, and opportunities for all to thrive.”

The budget, grounded in immediate support measures, is bolstered by substantial investments to secure a promising tomorrow for British Columbians and their families. To mitigate the impact of global inflation, the BC Family Benefit Bonus promises increased financial relief for over 340,000 families, including 66,000 previously ineligible households. Additionally, a one-time BC Electricity Affordability Credit is set to alleviate electricity costs for individuals and businesses struggling with rising expenses.

Recognizing the strain on small businesses due to inflation and labour shortages, the budget raises the Employer Health Tax exemption threshold to $1 million, easing financial burdens and fostering resilience in the entrepreneurial landscape.

To ensure housing is utilized as homes rather than speculative assets, the province introduced a flipping tax starting in 2025, targeting speculators and curbing housing costs. Furthermore, enhancements to the First Time Home Buyers program and tax adjustments aim to lower barriers to homeownership and stimulate new construction in both the housing and rental sectors.

“Our approach in Budget 2024 rejects the notion of austerity in response to global challenges,” Conroy asserted. “Instead, we’re building upon BC’s solid foundation to deliver essential services and infrastructure vital for the well-being of our communities.”

Acknowledging the demographic shifts and growing population, the budget allocates significant resources to bolster healthcare services, including investments in BC’s cancer plan and initiatives to support seniors. The budget also addressed the accessibility to in-vitro fertilization services, ensuring equitable access to family-building options.

Education remains a cornerstone of the provincial agenda, with Budget 2024 earmarking funds for additional teaching staff, special education resources, and school infrastructure improvements to accommodate the growing student population.

A staggering $43 billion in capital funding over the next three years underscores the government’s commitment to infrastructure development, spanning education, healthcare, housing and transportation sectors.

With climate change looming as a critical challenge, British Columbia commits to building a cleaner, resilient economy, investing in climate mitigation efforts, enhancing wildfire prevention measures and advancing the transition to a low-carbon future through initiatives like CleanBC and the Critical Minerals Strategy.

Despite economic headwinds, Budget 2024 emphasizes continued investment in affordability measures and essential services, with projected deficits declining over the fiscal plan. Minister Conroy reaffirmed the government’s dedication to prioritizing the well-being of residents and fostering a thriving, inclusive society amidst global economic uncertainties.

The 2024 BC Budget struggles to address the lack of post-secondary funding and the ongoing demand for more funding. Advocates, including the BC Federation of Students, discuss the government’s reliance on international students and the sudden cap on permits. “It fails to make up for years of underfunding and the impending budgetary complications brought on by the federal cap on international student permits,” stated a February 22 news release.

This puts a strain on the students’ capabilities to afford post-secondary education. According to WorkBC, “about 75 per cent of these job openings will require some form of post-secondary education or training [between 2023-2033].” With this in mind, failure to address these issues could have significant consequences for the province’s economy and social mobility, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing student needs beyond the budget provisions. The 2024 provincial budget will provide around $9.23 billion to post-secondary education by 2026-2027, with $845 million dedicated to staffing and operating costs. CUFABC expects the faculties to work hard together with the government to provide stable funding.

While attending the provincial budget meeting, Manpreet, the Vice President External of the Capilano Students’ Union and Chairperson of the Alliance of BC Students, observed that the budget had limited new funding for post-secondary education. “With uncertainties like international student caps and rising university fees, we hoped for more investment. We saw Ontario putting a lot of money into post-secondary after the whole chaotic announcement to get their system through it, we didn’t see the same here [in B.C.],” she said. “Continued capital investments, especially in student housing, are crucial to avoid future struggles—we urge ongoing support in this area.”

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