B.C. Budget 2022: Where are your tax dollars going?

The B.C. NDP's latest budget showing the province's road to affordability is paved, in part, by the very thing that many British Columbians can not afford: housing. Property transfer taxes a boon to the bottom line.

Making life more affordable for British Columbians has been a common theme for the BC NDP in its annual budgets. But as we wade our way through an ongoing pandemic and tail off of a devastating 2021 filled with climate-related challenges, it appears the thing many British Columbians are unable to afford is what the B.C. government is relying on, in part, to keep other costs low.

The B.C. government’s road to affordability is being paved, in part, by the money it’s making off home sales.

According to the latest figures in Budget 2022, the B.C. government is forecast to have made $3.2 billion off of 2021 property transfers. That’s up from the roughly $2 billion it made in the 2020/21 fiscal year.

The province made that money during what was a hot year for B.C. real estate, with records shattering in 2021 and prices continuing to rise due to supply issues.

“Inflation remains a concern as prices continue to face upward pressure from supply chain restrictions, resilient demand for goods and services, and high energy prices,” said Finance Minister Selina Robinson on Tuesday, during the unveiling of B.C.’s 2022 budget.

Housing supply challenges

However, while the BC NDP acknowledges housing supply and demand as a major obstacle for the people who live in this province, the solutions being offered by the government may not be as immediate as many would hope.

Budget 2022 builds off prior commitments, with an additional $166 million across the fiscal plan period “to continue and accelerate progress towards building 114,000 affordable housing units” in the province over 10 years.

The NDP government says since its Homes for BC program was launched in Budget 2018, more than 32,000 new homes have either been completed or are underway.

“The housing market remains active, partly supported by low interest rates and we are seeing some progress on supply. Housing starts were strong last year, increasing by 25.6 per cent to 47,607 units in 2021, a record high for annual housing starts,” she said. “Monthly B.C. home sales remain above historical levels, though below record highs observed last spring.”

And with employment continuing to strengthen and as B.C. looks to bolster jobs in certain industries, questions remain as to where the province will house many of these workers affordably.

“We’re working as quickly as we can, we’re doing as many things as we can,” Robinson said.

However, she admits the pandemic threw a wrench into much of the work the province was doing.

“We’re looking to find ways to engage in more consumer protection when it’s an overheated or volatile market,” the finance minister added, noting, “it is very much top of mind for this government.”

Keeping other costs low: child care

A main struggle for working British Columbians continues to be child care. In Budget 2022, the provincial government is touting lower fees, adding the fiscal plan “brings B.C. closer than ever” to the NDP’s promised $10/day child care.

A previously announced agreement with the federal government is expected to see average costs for infant and toddler care drop by 50 per cent to an average of $20/day by the end of this year.

“Budget 2022 builds on that investment by cutting average fees for preschool and before-and-after-school care to less than $20 a day for the 2023-24 school year,” the budget reads.

When asked about why the government has not been able to achieve its $10 a day goal yet, Robinson notes building new social programs like these takes time.

“We are making progress and you will note over time every single year, we continue to build more, and more, and more, and more,” she said.

In addition to working toward lower fees for families, the province notes in Budget 2022 that it is further investing to create more spaces for before and after school programs, increasing the number of districts offering such programs from 24 to 44.

The overarching theme of Budget 2022, as has been the case in previous years, is “building on previous plans.”

However, when asked what the province would tell British Columbians who argue relief is not coming fast enough, the finance minister urged patience, noting things take time to build.

Addressing various crises with Budget 2022

The pandemic has created challenges for many parts of life, and the government’s work has not been immune.

Robinson has repeatedly reverted back to the disruptions that COVID-19 created as a reason for delays in many provincial programs.

The drug crisis that has plagued British Columbia for years has shown no signs of slowing down. 2021 marked a sombre record when it comes to toxicity related deaths in this province, and advocates have pressed the province for faster solutions.

When asked whether Budget 2022 does enough to slow the number of deaths, Robinson says the province is continuing its work to ensure people have access to a safe supply.

She notes the government has also expanded treatment and recovery opportunities.

“We continue with building out our access to safe supply. It’s also why we’ve increased some resource in this budget to the ministry to continue to roll out the $375 million that they’re spending each and every year to deliver more recovery opportunities,” Robinson explained.

On the COVID-19 front, Budget 2022 includes $875 million in additional investments for 2022/23 as part of ‘Pandemic Recovery Contingencies.’ This funding is set to support a number of ongoing plans, including vaccination programs, PPE for frontline workers, and measures at long-term care and assisted living facilities.

Climate change challenges

However, another crisis has emerged with more ferocity in recent years. Climate-related emergencies have only increased as we move forward, and many experts have predicted that destructive wildfires, floods, heatwaves, and cold snaps are likely to only become more commonplace in the future.

The BC NDP has touted a focus on climate challenges as part of its 2022 budget. Much of its plan is to invest a total of $2.1 billion from 2021 through to the end of this fiscal plan.

The investment, which aims to protect British Columbians from the effects of climate-related disasters, like the devastating fires and floods that ravaged parts of the province last year, in the long-term includes $1.5 billion in funding to help communities that were affected by the events of 2021.

There’s also $400 million earmarked in 2022/23 for Emergency Management BC to support communities, as well as $1.1 billion in contingencies for disaster recovery over the next three years. The goal, the province says, is to “have the flexibility to be responsive and support communities as the costs of recovery become better known.”

This funding is in addition to federal cash that was allocated earlier to help British Columbians with recovery efforts.

In addition to the $1.5 billion to help with recovery plans, the province is also allocating, as part of its $2.1 billion, hundreds of millions of dollars — $600 million – in operating and capital funding to help with continuing efforts and prevention projects, with future emergencies in mind.

The $600 million portion includes $145 million in new money which the provincial government says will help the BC Wildfire Service shift from reactive response to a proactive approach. The funding will allow the service to move to a year-round model, away from its current seasonal one.

Robinson believes the latest fiscal plan does what it needs to address concerns from various experts, who predict B.C. will continue to face climate-related challenges in the years to come.

“It’s going to take all of us. It’s going to take the federal government, local government, First Nations, and the provincial government to work together,” she said.


Despite catastrophic flooding and a particularly dire wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC NDP is projecting its deficit for 2021/22 at $483 million, down from the initial $9.7 billion projection forecast early on in 2021.

The forecast budget for 2022/23 is now set at about $5.5 billion, though it’s unclear what that figure will be as the year goes on.

Robinson notes the ongoing pandemic continues to leave us in a state of uncertainty, with no way to tell what the future will hold.

“Budget 2022 meets today’s challenges, while always investing in a stronger British Columbia. It delivers action today with a plan for tomorrow. A plan that responds to the difficult days we find ourselves in,” Robinson said in her speech from the legislature Tuesday afternoon.

Other things to know about Budget 2022

On top of the continued efforts to expand and lessen the cost of quality child care options in B.C., Budget 2022 is also putting money toward investments in the workforce, “ensuring people are well-trained and fairly compensated by training an additional 130 early childhood educators in each of the next three years.”

The province is also looking to expand wages for thousands of early childhood educators.

Meanwhile, the BC NDP says Budget 2022 “starts the transition to more accessible and inclusive services for children and youth with support needs by establishing family connections centres throughout the province.”

The plan is to look at the findings from two pilot projects — set for the northwest and central Okanagan regions — with results expected to help inform a province-wide plan by 2025.

Looking back at the topic of housing, Budget 2022 looks to build off a 2021 plan to “give middle-income British Columbians more affordable rental and homeownership opportunities.”

Read the full budget document:


Budget 2022 lacking in urgency, public health expert says

The slow-and-steady model the province appears to be taking in certain sectors is being criticized by some stakeholders.

While he agrees the pandemic and health care do need to be in the spotlight, Dr. Paul Kershaw, with the UBC School of Population & Public Health, says the action the government is taking on things like affordable housing and child care does not go far enough.

“The numbers in this budget invite the question: why do crises related to child care unaffordability, housing unaffordability and climate change attract less urgency than does medical care?” he asked, moments after the contents of Budget 2022 were unveiled.

Kershaw claims the province’s goal of building more than 100,000 units of affordable housing is taking far too long, blaming political will as the reason behind the delay.

“As I understand, many of those have been approved but they’re waiting on funding so they can be built. So there’s a funding issue. Medical care is going to get $3 billion over the next three years. Child care is going to get so much less than that, housing is going to get so much less than that,” he said.

Despite the work the BC NDP has done over the years, Kershaw notes there’s always more than can — and needs — to be done to address the affordability challenges British Columbians face.

Some programs need an overhaul, he adds, pointing to things like the Homeowner Grant and other tax breaks, saying the province is missing out on other revenue opportunities to help make housing more accessible.

On climate, Kershaw believes Budget 2022 misses the mark.

“It’s ignoring the moral of the story that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he explained. “In my view, illness treatment is, let’s treat illness after the fact. Things like social investment … are prevention.”

When it comes to the pandemic, Kershaw admits it’s been a large feat to tackle. However, he doesn’t believe handling this health crisis should override all other files.

“We are at a moment in our history in this province and country where we definitely need our governments not only to walk and chew gum but to be able to multitask much more than that still,” he said. “We have to fight with the same level of urgency the pandemic, climate change, housing unaffordability, and child care unaffordability. If we don’t and we only do the medical care side of the equation, we are definitely building in serious inter-generational tensions.”

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