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

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Northwestern BC Hydro transmission line to be refurbished

Replacing poles between Kitimat and Terrace far cheaper than complete new line

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Most Read