B.C. government ‘cautiously optimistic’ about balanced budget

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James reads to a group of 3 and 4 years old.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James reads to a group of 3 and 4 years old. Richard Zussman/Global News

The B.C. government is promising to give back to British Columbians in the form of child care support and housing measures in the 2018 provincial budget. The NDP will introduce it’s first budget in 17 years on Tuesday.

British Columbia has had five straight balanced budgets and the new government is striving to do the same.

“I am cautiously optimistic about this year and you will hear the rest of the details tomorrow,” James said on the surplus.

The NDP are facing unexpected cost pressures, including a massive bill to fight last summer’s wild fires in the interior and a $1.3 billion hole at ICBC.

The NDP must also fulfill promises from the election platform and massive expectations that come with being out of power since 2001.

READ MORE: Throne Speech 2018: B.C. government promises ‘historic investments’ in child care, housing

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“It’s certainty the biggest challenge,” said James in answering a question about expectations. “There is a lot to fix, there are a lot problems in our province and a lot that needs to be addressed. The public, I understand their impatience and their desire to have everything fixed overnight. People will see the focus and direction of putting people first in this budget.”

Child care is clearly a high priority for the provincial government and James held the traditional day before the budget media event at a downtown Victoria child care. The finance minister would not get into details on what parents should expect but said there will be help coming immediately.

“This really is a program for today. It is a program for British Columbia. It will be a program that fits the needs parents, communities and businesses today,” said James. “People, that really is the theme.”

READ MORE: Province to create 3,800 new licensed child care spaces across B.C.

“This is really about the people in this province and providing them with support and ensuring we have a strong economy and nothing could be more important than child care.”

As for the budget tradition of the finance minister getting new shoes James says she is taking a different approach.

“I am very fortunate I have an amazing husband who is not only is amazing but also polishes shoes incredibly. So I am polishing an old pair of shoes,” said James.

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