BC Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced the provincial budget for 2017 on Tuesday, with several nods in the direction of students and the tech industry.
Speaking to the legislature, de Jong said every young person, regardless of their family situation, should have the chance to get post-secondary education.
“Education opens our minds. It expands our immediate world into the endless array of ideas the world has to offer,” said de Jong.
“And of course, it opens the door to a wealth of opportunities that can lead students into a bright future.”
That said, here’s what the budget had to offer:
- The interest rate on student loans is being lowered from prime plus 2.5% to just prime, from August 1, 2017. (Prime is currently 2.7%.)
- The student loan process is to be streamlined, with a “fixed student contribution model” to allow students to hold jobs without affecting their student financial assistance
- $3 million will be spent in the next three years so that at least 20 more post-secondary institutions can get on the BCNET network for more secure, faster internet connectivity
- $2.6 billion will be provided for new and renewed buildings on campus, including a new Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering Building at Surrey SFU
- $14 million extra operating funding will be provided for Emily Carr University of Arts and Design, as it moves into its new campus in Vancouver
De Jong said very little about the tech sector in his legislature speech, but he did acknowledge that the industry no now employs more than100,000 British Columbians.
The tech sector also contributed $14.1 billion to BC’s economic output, said the minister, who pointed out that last year the government launched a BC Tech Strategy to help grow the sector.
Here’s what the budget had to offer the tech sector:
- $87 million to enhance the BC Tech Strategy; details were not provided but will be revealed at the upcoming BC Tech Summit in March.
- $40 million to give all British Columbians high speed internet by 2021
- The interactive digital media tax credit will be expanded to include augmented reality and virtual reality entertainment products as of February 22, 2017.
- The boundary for regional film tax credits will be adjusted, so companies in the City of Langley and Langley Township are also eligible.