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B.C.’s budget day: Five charts you should see first

1. On real estate

Recent investigations by The Globe and Mail have revealed some alarming trends in B.C.’s red-hot real estate market: “shadow flipping,” foreign investors using loopholes to avoid taxes on real-estate transactions, dubious marketing used to encourage buyers to avoid paying GST, middlemen using “assignment clauses” to maximize profits on houses they’re flipping. Much is still unknown about what’s going on in the housing market. Finance Minister Mike de Jong says Tuesday’s budget will improve data collection around real-estate transactions to get a better picture of what’s happening – information that it can share with the Canada Revenue Agency and use to combat deceptive practices.

2. On affordability

B.C.’s soaring home prices have left home ownership beyond the reach of many British Columbians. On Friday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the province will renovate more than 2,000 units of affordable housing, at a cost of $355-million over five years. The Premier was short on specifics in explaining how “affordable” would be defined, though.

3. On energy

In 2013, the B.C. Liberals hinged their promise of a “prosperity fund” on liquefied natural gas revenue that has so far failed to materialize with energy prices low and projects to export the province’s gas in regulatory limbo. B.C. hasn’t yet secured a final investment decision from any of its prospective LNG investors. Tuesday’s budget will introduce the prosperity fund anyway with $100-million in general revenues, which Mr. de Jong admits is a “small” amount arbitrarily agreed upon.

4. On unemployment

While unemployment is surging in neighbouring Alberta and Canada’s jobless rate is creeping up, B.C. has been reaping some benefits from the influx of job seekers from that province.

5. On infrastructure

Last month, the federal government pledged to boost their infrastructure spending budget to $125-billion over 10 years to provide a stimulus boost during the economic downturn. The Premier has been pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to send some money B.C.’s way for infrastructure megaprojects like Metro Vancouver transit upgrades and an overhaul of the B.C.-Alberta hydro grid.

With reports from Justine Hunter, Kathy Tomlinson, Andrea Woo, Brent Jang, Ian Bailey, Rachelle Younglai, Mike Hager and Sunny Dhillon

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