B.C. to pay $3.2 million in public subsidies to political parties in 2021

© Arlen Redekop B.C. will pay more than $3.2 million in subsidies to political parties in 2021, based on the results of the October provincial election.

VICTORIA — B.C. taxpayers will spend more than $3.2 million in public subsidies for political parties this year, including, for the first time, to the B.C. Conservative Party.

Elections B.C. announced the payments Monday, which are mandated under a law passed by Premier John Horgan in 2017 that banned corporate and union donations to parties. The public payments, which amount to $1.75 per vote, were recalculated based on the performance of the parties in the snap October election. The amounts are split between two payments in January and July.

Two small political parties, the B.C. Tories and the Rural B.C. Party, received funding based on winning at least five per cent of the total number of valid votes in the districts in which they fielded candidates.

The Conservatives, who won 35,902 votes, or 1.9 per cent of the popular vote, will get $62,828 this year.

“I feel it’s a game-changer for any byelections that may be possible and certainly the next general election as we continue to build and our platforms continue to resonate with folks from all over the province,” said B.C. Tory party Leader Trevor Bolin.

“We weren’t able to secure any seats, however the turnout in support in many different ridings as well as qualifying for an annual allowance is a sign of things to come for us, and for B.C. Conservatives.”

The Rural B.C. Party is set to receive $1,319 because candidate Darcy Repen won 754 votes in the riding of Stikine, which amounted to 10.42 per cent of the popular vote.

The B.C. Liberal Party is in line for about $1.1 million, despite losing 13 seats in the election and recording 160,435 fewer voters. The subsidy is almost $480,000 less than the party received in 2020 before the election, although the per-vote-subsidy amount has declined $0.25 per vote since then as well.

The B.C. NDP, which implemented the public subsidy, continues to be the biggest beneficiary. The party is set to receive almost $1.6 million in 2021, after picking up 16 seats and more than 103,000 additional voters in the last election.

The B.C. Greens, which lost one riding and have two MLAs in the legislature, will get $497,570 in 2021.

The public subsidy for political parties was considered temporary when it was implemented in 2018 and is set to expire at the end of 2021 unless the government decides to continue the program.

Under the changes, parties are also eligible to have half of their election expenses reimbursed by taxpayers. Elections B.C. said Monday that amount is unknown because the agency is waiting for financing reports from the parties that are due Jan. 22.