February 06, 2015 - 5:00 AM
VICTORIA - Finance Minister Mike de Jong says this year's budget bottom line is rosier than originally forecast but that doesn't mean the government is about to embark on a spending spree.
De Jong says the budget he'll table Feb. 17 has a surplus above the $444 million he forecast last fall, but much of that extra cash is earmarked to pay down debt and borrowing costs incurred in recent budget deficit years.
The minister hints the budget will address the government's controversial program of clawing back social assistance payments connected to single-parent families.
The Opposition New Democrats, social service groups and single parents have been calling on the government to stop deducting support payments from income and disability assistance cheques.
De Jong says the government forecasts budget surpluses for the next three years, but they will be lower than this year's budget due primarily to the uncertainties associated with world energy markets.
He says B.C. will likely be the only province in Canada to forecast a balanced budget for next year.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015