The budget announced on February 20, 2018 had lots of good news for people who are served and employed by the Developmental Disabilities Association:
- $1 billion over 3 years for child care
$1.6 billion for Housing
$1.5 billion for Healthcare
$409 million for K-12 Education
New taxes include:
- 20% foreign buyers’ tax
9.3% increase in property tax revenue
1-2% payroll tax
$834 million in new carbon tax revenue
- An increase of 1% will also be applied to the corporate tax rate.
The B.C. minimum wage will increase by 11% to $15 per hour over 3 years.
The distribution method for child care funding has not yet been determined. MCFD representatives admit they don’t have a concrete plan in place. This will be a difficult exercise since they will be moving child care from a ‘free enterprise’ model, where providers are small and large, union and non-union, licensed and unlicensed, non-profit and for-profit, a model where no central organizing body exists, and write a policy regarding how new funds will be distributed. At present, there is a Minister of State for Child Care and funds will flow from the Ministry of Children and Families, but there is talk that an emphasis on early learning by this government will move child care/pre-school closer to the Ministry of Education. The emphasis will be on early childhood development rather than just child care.
Once providers register for the new fee reduction program, agencies will receive up to $350 per month per child with the expectation that these funds will reduce costs correspondingly for parents. We are assuming that increased benefits will continue to come from individual family subsidies, which are up to $1,250 per eligible family.
Another goal of the child care program will be to increase the number of spaces provincially by 22,000, so additional child care will also be available. The province will support unlicensed providers to become licensed and offer assistance for recruitment and training for early childhood educators, as finding staff will be a significant challenge. There is also a 10-year, $153 million commitment by the federal government to fund the B.C. government’s three-year action plan for early learning. This plan has a line item specifically for children and youth with special needs. This line will get an increase of $20 million for 2018/2019 and 10 million for 2019/2020. There is also a lift of $8 million of new funding for Early Intervention Therapies, Infant Development and other foundational programs.
Many of our families are invested in Registered Disability Savings Plans. One problem with these plans is that many adults with developmental disabilities do not have the capacity to enter into legal contracts. In these cases, the Income Tax Act requires that the plan holder be the individual’s legal representative, but obtaining legal guardianship is an expensive and lengthy process that removes virtually all rights from the individual. The legal representative requirement was waived until 2018 to allow for qualifying family members to hold the RDSP if there was no legal representative. The federal budget has now extended this temporary measure to 2023.
For those of our clients who work for pay, the Working Income Tax Benefit, which supplements the earnings of low-income workers, has been increased to 26% of each dollar of earned income in excess of $3,000 to a maximum benefit of $1,355 for single people and $2,335 for couples starting in 2019. The benefit will be reduced by 12% of net income in excess of $12,820 for single individuals and $17,025 for families. This applies to people who also receive the Disability Tax Credit.
The Medical Expenses Tax Credit has also been expanded to include costs related to “animals that are specifically trained to help individuals cope with severe mental impairments” (but not just for comfort or emotional support) and will apply to expenses incurred after 2017.
By Alanna Hendren