VICTORIA - British Columbia's new government has released a budget update that puts people first, Finance Minister Carole James announced today. The balanced Budget 2017 Update forecasts a surplus of $246 million in 2017/18 and takes key first steps to improve affordability, build better services for everyone, and invest in a strong, innovative economy that creates jobs and works for all British Columbians.

Making Life More Affordable:

Government is taking immediate steps to make life more affordable, including: Improving Services: Funding is being provided to improve and restore the services British Columbians count on, including: Building a Strong, Sustainable and Innovative Economy: Budget 2017 Update includes new investments that grow jobs and help develop a strong, sustainable and innovative economy for the people and businesses of the province, including: Commitments made in Budget 2017 Update are funded by improved revenue forecasts over the fiscal plan period, as well as steps to improve fairness in the tax system, including: The Province will act to reduce carbon emissions by increasing the carbon tax rate on April 1, 2018 by $5 per tonne of CO 2 equivalent emissions, while increasing the climate action tax credit to support low and middle income families. The requirement for the carbon tax to be revenue-neutral is eliminated so carbon tax revenues can support families and fund green initiatives that help us address our climate action commitments. B.C.'s economy is strong, and employment, retail sales, housing starts and exports have all exceeded expectations so far this year. The outlook for 2017 real GDP growth is 2.9 per cent, which is prudent compared to the outlook provided by the independent Economic Forecast Council. Private sector forecasters expect B.C. to rank near the top of the provincial rankings in economic growth in 2017 and 2018.