What the federal budget means for B.C.
So the federal budget has been presented at last. What does it mean for British Columbians -- will we benefit or not? Let CTV's correspondents tell you the highlights.
British Columbian homeowners looking to refurbish their kitchen or build a new deck will get a tax break from the federal government in the hopes that it will give a shot in the arm to the economy by encouraging spending.
Those who spend over $1,000 on renovations can claim 15 per cent back. This is for projects costing up to $10,000. But those who want to take advantage of the scheme have just one year to do it as it ends in February 2010.
Bob Rasmus with RJR Construction in Vancouver says whether it is private homes or social housing, this budget announcement is good news.
"I gotta like it -- that means a boost for the whole industry across the country. People will be more inclined to open up their purse string a little bit and spend some money on renovations," said Rasmus.
Those items and services not eligible for the tax credit include routine repairs and maintenance, furniture, appliances, and electronics purchases, as well as construction equipment.
The transportation question
Joe Trasolini, the Mayor of Port Moody, watched the budget presentation with the hope that he would finally see a green light for the hotly anticipated Evergreen Line, which would connect the city with Coquitlam.
B.C. would need at least $400 million before construction could start.
Trasolini could not see what he was hoping for.
"If the $400 million is not approved in this budget, within this budget clearly, when we're going into a $37 billion budget deficit in one year, when will it ever be approved?" he said. "I was hoping that somebody would prove me wrong. Unfortunately, we're still waiting."
In the end, the project was mentioned, but with no specifics attached.
B.C.'s finance minister remains optimistic.
"We're looking to work with regional government, municipal governments and the federal government to make sure it happens.... Kevin Falcon is the minister responsible not only transportation but for infrastructure, and he's working very hard with John Baird, his counterpart, to make sure B.C. gets its fair share," said Colin Hansen.
But were would funding go? To twin the Port Mann, build a new Pattullo Bridge or on new highways?
Gregor Robertson is upset there is no direct cash for new buses.
"Again, [there is] some money for transit, but not nearly what I think cities across Canada, including Vancouver, were hoping for," he said.
How B.C. politicians responded
And Vancouver's mayor says he's disappointed with the amount allocated in the federal budget to build new social housing.
"What we need in Vancouver is to create new social housing to address our homeless challenge. They aren't new dollars specifically for that, which is disappointing," said Gregor Robertson.
There is money in today's budget for disabled housing, but in order for the City of Vancouver to receive money for new housing -- it would have to match money put up by the federal government.
This is money, Robertson said, that the city just doesn't have.
B.C. premier Gordon Campbell said the budget touches on many issues his government wants addressed in these difficult economic times.
Campbell says the budget is a call for building partnerships with the federal government, and British Columbia is ready to answer the call.
Before the release of the budget, the premier says he asked the federal government to focus on supporting programs that involve jobs, families, homes, aboriginals, education and infrastructure.
He points out those issues have been tackled in today's budget and there's some added tax relief.
The premier said British Columbia's goal is to table a balanced budget on Feb. 17, but that is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
Campbell travelled to Ottawa this week to witness the tabling of today's federal budget.
B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman says the $7.8 million for housing should go a long way to help build more housing in B.C. for seniors, the poor and the homeless.
B.C. Chamber of Commerce President John Winter liked the tax cuts and infrastructure, training and housing programs, but was concerned by the sheer range of projects and whether they'll have the intended effect.
Steve Hunt of the United Steelworkers Union says an extension of employment insurance benefits will help forest workers, but he adds more help is needed in finding laid off workers new jobs.
Other budget nuggets
There are two nuggets for first time home buyers. They can now use more of their RRSP for a down payment -- $25,000 -- up from the old limit of $20,000.
First time buyers can now write off closing costs like legal fees.
And if you own a business -- small or large -- you can now write off any new computers 100 per cent in one year -- which will encourage modernization -- or at least some local spending.
With reports from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber, St. John Alexander, Chris Olsen and files from The Canadian Press.