‘AGT: The Champions’ Finale Live Blog: Who Will Be Crowned The Ultimate Champion?

The ‘AGT: The Champions’ finale has arrived. After 50 acts competed to be the best in the world, only one will be named the ultimate champion. Who is going to win? Stay updated with our live blog now!

AGT: The Champions is down to the top 12, and every single contestant is worthy of winning. Each and every week, these performers have stepped up their game for the judges and fans. So, who is going to win? Here are the finalists: Shin Lim, Angelica Hale, Preacher Lawson, Darci Lynne Farmer, Kechi, Deadly Games, Susan Boyle, Paul Potts, Brian Justin Crum, Cristina RamosKseniya Simonova, and Jon Dorenbos. This is also the last finale with the current judges. Heidi Klum and Mel B are leaving the show. Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union will be joining the panel of judges with Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel.

Before a winner is announced, the AGT: The Champions finale has a number of fun performances planned. The Voices of Hope children’s choir from AGT season 13 and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Tokio Myers team up for an incredible performance. What an amazing collaboration! Next, AGT season 11 runner-up The Clairvoyants take the stage to wow us with their magic. AGT season 5 runner-up Jackie Evancho performs a gorgeous rendition of Barbra Streisand’s “Somewhere” in a stunning blue ball gown. Cirque du Soleil then showcases their fantastic Mystere show for the judges and audience.

Brian and Cristina combine their voices for an epic duet of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” and these two need to collaborate ASAP. But that’s not all. Deadly Games also performs while Brian and Cristina sing! Shin Lim hits the stage with host Terry Crews’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-star Melissa Fumero to show off his skills. Like he always does, Shin manages to blow everyone’s minds with his tricks. Seriously, HOW DOES HE DO IT?! This recap is developing…

Source: Read Full Article

WWII Sailor Photographed Kissing Woman in Iconic V-J Day Celebration Dies at Age 95

George Mendonsa, the World War II veteran identified as the sailor who was photographed kissing a woman in Times Square in celebration of the end of the war, has died.

At the time of his death, Mendonsa was residing in an assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island with his wife of 70 years.

On Sunday, Mendonsa’s daughter Sharon Molleur received a call from the facility, saying her father had fallen and had a seizure, Molleur told the Providence Journal.

His death came just two days before his 96th birthday.

In the iconic photograph taken on Aug. 14, 1945, also known as V-J Day — the day Japan surrendered — Mendonsa was captured kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman.

Mendonsa had never met Friedman, a dental assistant wearing a nurse uniform, before that moment, the Associated Press reported.

The photo was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt and published in Life magazine.

The popularity behind the photo prompted a number of men and women to come forward claiming to be “the couple,” but it was later confirmed as Mendonsa and Friedman, the Associated Press reported.

Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi, authors of The Kissing Sailor, which was published in 2012, said facial recognition technology confirmed Mendonsa and Friedman’s identity.

“The evidence is so overwhelming,” Verria told Providence Journal. “There really is no doubt… This man deserves the credit during his lifetime.”

In 2015, Mendonsa spoke about the kiss as he was honored at the Rhode Island State House.

During the war, Mendonsa served on a destroyer, the AP reported, which is a long-endurance warship used to escort larger vessels in the fleet and defend them against attackers.

When the victory over Japan was announced, Mendonsa was on leave and happened to be in Times Square, Providence Journal reported.

Mendonsa revealed the reason behind the kiss was that Friedman reminded him of the nurses that would care for wounded sailors on the ship — and he had drunk a few alcoholic beverages.

“I saw what those nurses did that day and now back in Times Square the war ends, a few drinks, so I grabbed the nurse,” Mendonsa explained WPRI-TV reported.

Neither Mendonsa or Friedman knew of the photo until years later as they went their separate ways after the kiss, Verria explained, Providence Journal reported.

RELATED: Oldest Man in the U.S., WWII Vet Richard Overton, Dies at 112: ‘Not Just a Hero, But a Legend’

Friedman also spoke about the incident, telling the Library of Congress it “wasn’t romantic.”

“It was just somebody really celebrating,” Friedman said.

Friedman died in 2016 in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, the Associated Press reported. She was 92.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mendonsa is also survived by a son named Ron Mendonsa, Providence Journal reported.

Source: Read Full Article

Oscars 2019 Updates: Queen Will Perform at a Three-Plus Hour Show Which Won't Include Those Awful "Everyday People" Bits

After a lengthy period of tumultuous development, this year’s Academy Awards finally seem to be finding their sense of identity. All it took was an uprising from half of Hollywood and backtracking on several key decisions to get them there.

A new batch of Oscars 2019 updates has arrived thanks to an interview with the ceremony’s lead producer, Donna Gigliotti. She says the ceremony won’t meet its self-imposed three-hour limit after all, and we won’t have to endure any of those stupid “everyday people” bits that previous host Jimmy Kimmel incorporated over the past couple of years. Plus, Queen and Adam Lambert will be on stage to perform.

RIP, Stupid Bits

While Kimmel was a solid Oscar host, one of the worst parts of his ceremonies were those “man on the street”-style bits that brought average Americans into the broadcast. You know the ones: it’s the part that ground the show to a halt while Robert Downey Jr. blasted someone in the face with a T-shirt cannon, or when a guy who looked like a King of the Hill character wandered across the front row of celebrities, jaw agape as he shook Meryl Streep’s hand. (Those exact instances may not have happened, but you know what I mean.)

Thankfully, this year’s Oscars just got some much-needed good news: audiences won’t have to suffer through that nonsense this year. Speaking with The New York Times, Gigliotti put the decision in blunt terms:

“I love everyday people. I ride the subway with them every day in New York. Everyday people don’t get me ratings.”

No offense to everyday people (I am one of them, after all), but the Oscars is not about them, and it never has been. It’s supposed to be a celebration of cinema and the filmmakers and collaborators who make movies, not the people who watch them. Maybe this whole thing won’t be such a disaster after all.

A Three Hour Show Won’t Happen

For months, the Academy (and network ABC) was hellbent on keeping the show under three hours in an effort to boost falling ratings. But now that all of the Oscars will again be handed out live on the air, Gigliotti says the show will go over that length.

Good! This is the Academy Awards, for God’s sake. It happens one night a year. ABC clearly had an agenda of their own, but I’m glad they’re kowtowing to the pressure to let the show play out naturally without trying to impose arbitrary rules that probably wouldn’t even boost ratings anyway. The days of 50 million people tuning into the show are long gone – the network executives need to get used to that idea and work on figuring out a new way to adapt in this changing media landscape.

Non-Hollywood People Will Introduce Best Picture Nominees

How will the show handle the Best Picture nominees this year? The NYT learned the answer:

Brief presentations of the eight best picture nominees, for instance, will be “sprinkled” throughout the show, Weiss said. (Last year, the best picture presentations were condensed into a single four-minute montage that aired just before that category was awarded.) Eight people from outside the world of entertainment will give the presentations, speaking about what the films mean to them; [tennis legend Serena] Williams will give the one for “A Star Is Born.”

I wonder who else from the non-Hollywood world will appear to stump for these movies? Several of these films should be easy to talk about; two of them, less so. I imagine a person can just get by talking about the music for Bohemian Rhapsody, but to quote something I saw on Twitter this morning, who is going to step up and go to bat for Green Book?

A Musical Opening

But without a host, how will the show kick off? This video from Queen seems to indicate that they’re going to kick off the ceremony with former American Idol star Adam Lambert at the mic. The video doesn’t just say that they’ll perform at the Oscars, it specifically says 5pm PST, which is the scheduled start time for the ceremony.

This year’s Academy Awards airs on ABC on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Source: Read Full Article

TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Academy Awards, ‘Desus & Mero’

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, the Academy Awards air and Desus & Mero make their debut on Showtime.

“America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” NBC, Monday, 8 p.m.

The first season of the competition series concludes as the winner is chosen from among the remaining competitors.

“Manifest,” NBC, Monday, 10 p.m.

In the Season 1 finale, Ben and Michaela must confront a dire threat to the passengers’ safety when Griffin schemes to take the callings public. Meanwhile, tensions between Jared and Zeke reach a boiling point, and Ben, Grace, and Olive make a devastating discovery

“Desus & Mero,” Showtime, Thursday, 11 p.m.

The titular TV and podcast hosts make their Showtime late-night debut this week. Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will appear on the first episode. Future guests include John Legend, Vince Staples, Ben Stiller, Issa Rae, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Pusha T.

91st Annual Academy Awards, ABC, Sunday, 8 p.m.

The best movies of the year compete for the top prize in film. Some of the movies in contention this year include “Black Panther,” “Vice,” “A Star Is Born,” “Roma,” and “The Favourite.” For the first time in decades, the show will go on without a host.

Source: Read Full Article

Terrifying moment 16ft Great White Shark lunges at photographer off Australian coast

Incredible images show the 16-foot-long predator emerging from the water and swimming over to check out the photographer’s camera which he was dangling in the water.

The shark's razor sharp teeth can be seen clenched around the boat, which was sailing around the Neptune Islands, Australia.

The remarkable incident was caught on camera by commercial abalone diver Luke Thom, 26, from Margaret River.

He was hoping to capture the extreme danger the photographer got in to snap the shark.

Luke said: “I was watching Andrew Fox taking these incredible photos of Great White sharks so I thought I’d try to get a shot of him getting his photo because of how close he gets to them with the fish-eye camera.

“'Holy s***' is probably the most common reaction. I see a story and a moment in the photo. It’s not like watching a video.

"You can look at a photo and imagine what is going on."

“These sharks are pretty incredible animals and they need protection and minimal human impact.”

The Neptunes comprise two pairs of islands known as the North and South Neptunes.

Male Great White Sharks – which grow up to 16-foot-long – inhabit the islands all year round.

The pups are born in summer (December to January), but don’t start entering the ocean until winter (April to August).

This is when the giant female Great Whites – which are up to 19-foot-long – come to the Neptunes.

Yesterday beaches around Byron Bay were shut after a Great White bit a surfer.

Three people were mauled by sharks before Christmas in the seas around Australia's Whitsunday Islands, further north in Queensland.






Source: Read Full Article

Former FBI official says ‘crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Washington: Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has said in an interview that a "crime may have been committed" when President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia.

McCabe also said in the interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday in the US that the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the May 2017 firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

Andrew McCabe said a crime may have been committed by Donald Trump when he fired FBI director James Comey.Credit:AP

"And the idea is, if the President committed obstruction of justice, fired the director of the FBI to negatively impact or to shut down our investigation of Russia's malign activity and possibly in support of his campaign, as a counterintelligence investigator you have to ask yourself, 'why would a president of the United States do that?'" McCabe said.

He added: "So all those same sorts of facts cause us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia?"

Asked whether Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein was on board with the obstruction and counterintelligence investigations, McCabe replied, "absolutely".

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein was serious when he proposed wearing a wire to record Trump, McCabe said.Credit:Bloomberg

McCabe said the remark was made during a conversation about why Trump had fired Comey.

"And in the context of that conversation, the Deputy Attorney-General offered to wear a wire into the White House. He said, 'I never get searched when I go into the White House. I could easily wear a recording device. They wouldn't know it was there'," McCabe said.

In excerpts released last week by CBS News, McCabe also described a conversation in which Rosenstein had broached the idea of invoking the Constitution's 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. The Justice Department said in a statement that Rosenstein, based on his dealings with Trump, does not see cause to seek the removal of the President.

Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed to investigate whether the top officials at the Justice Department and the FBI plotted an "attempted bureaucratic coup" to remove Trump from office. He said he would subpoena McCabe and Rosenstein if necessary.

Trump reiterated his criticism of McCabe and said the attempted coup was "treasonous".

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who is seeking her party's nomination for president, told reporters after a campaign event on Sunday in Las Vegas that if the people around Trump believe he cannot fulfil the obligations of his office, then they have a duty to invoke the 25th Amendment.

A favourite target of Trump's ire, Warren said she has no special knowledge on whether there are grounds to remove Trump from office but said that "there are a whole lot of people who do see him every day who evidently were talking about invoking the 25th Amendment".

AP

Source: Read Full Article

Jonas Brothers Planning Epic Reunion 6 Yrs. After Split: Band Name & More Revealed

The Jonas Brothers are planning on reuniting, according to a new report! Find out their new group name that will give you chills!

S.O.S., this sounds too good to be true! The Jonas Brothers are planning an epic reunion 6 years after they officially split as a group, according to sources who told Us Weekly. On top of that, the trio will be officially losing the “Brothers” part of their group name, and will be simply referred to as “JONAS,” sources went on to tell the publication. Meanwhile, a source told The Sun that the brothers convened in London recently to discuss their comeback, which will reportedly include new music and a documentary. Their insider shared, “After enjoying solo music success and taking time to work on passion projects, they feel that now is the right time to get back together.”

Rumors of a possible reunion stirred almost a year ago in Jan., 2018 after the group’s Instagram page went live again. However, Nick dispelled these rumors, telling W magazine, “I mean, it is not happening right now. Never say never. I think that there is some great things happening in all of our lives individually still and we are all focusing on that at the moment.”

Nick previously talked about “initiating” the conversation that led to the group’s split back in 2013. “I [initiated it]. It was a very tough conversation,” Nick told host Andy Cohen during an episode of WWHL back in 2016. “It left the family a bit shaken up for a little while… We’re good now. I have a beautiful niece. [Kevin] has made a family and [has] an app company he’s working on. Joe’s band DNCE is doing very well. It’s good for everybody and it’s good it happened because I think we all grew from it, but it was very challenging for a little while.” We’ll keep you posted with all of the latest news about their forthcoming reunion. In the meantime, check out all of the photos of the Jonas Brothers over the years in our gallery above.

Source: Read Full Article

Katy Perry & Orlando Bloom’s Astrological Compatibility Is A Forever Kind Of Love

I think it’s safe to say the couple that had the best Valentine’s Day this year was Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry. After years of dating on and off, Bloom popped the question and Perry said yes. These two are getting married! And after looking at Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom’s astrological compatibility, I’m honestly not all that surprised. A relationship like this one? Well, it really is written in the stars.

Just some quick background on these two, in case you’re out of the loop on their love story: They first met and began dating in January 2016. While everything seemed to be going well, they decided to take a break in February 2016, when their reps told People they were putting a "respectful, loving space" between them. Fortunately, by August of that year, they were spotted attending an Ed Sheeran concert together, and by September 2018, it was clear they were officially back on when they hit the red carpet together at the Global Ocean Gala in Monaco. (Stars, they are just like us!)

While this might sound like a rocky start for most couples, it’s perfectly on brand for their signs. Bloom was born on January 13 under the the earth sign Capricorn, and Perry’s birthday is October 25, making her a Scorpio. While these two signs together means electric chemistry, it takes a while before either is fully ready to settle down. The result is often an on-and-off-again courtship that can’t be rushed. Sound familiar? Here’s what else we can guess about this couple, based on their astrological compatibility.

She finally feels safe enough to give someone her full heart.

View this post on Instagram

full bloom

A post shared by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on

One of Scorpio’s biggest challenges in a relationship is trust. This water sign is very in touch with their emotions, but they try their best to hide them behind a shell, especially if they’ve been stung before. So, despite their great capacity for love, they tend to hold people at arm’s length until they earn their trust. Fortunately for Scorpio, it doesn’t get more trustworthy and honest (sometimes to a fault) than Capricorn. This earth sign is steady and pragmatic, and if they’ve picked you, they’re really serious about you. This is a sign that refuses to waste time, so they’ve probably thought long and hard about opening up their hearts. The good news? Once you have Cap’s heart, you never have to worry again.

The sex is intense and the passion is effortless — but a deeper connection is a challenge.

Capricorn and Scorpio’s sexual compatibility is complicated. On the one hand, the physical connection and passion they ignite in one another is effortless. Scorpio is a very physical sign that craves touch and is almost insatiable when it comes to sex. For earth signs like Capricorn, connecting on this concrete level comes naturally and is very rewarding. So, this combination of signs is one that burns brightly in the bedroom. Where they struggle is taking all that physical connection and going deeper — and really connecting on an emotional and spiritual level. However, they are capable of getting there if they both put in the effort. It can come in fits, but once that connection is truly forged, it’s strong — and hot.

They really “get” one another.

Scorpio and Capricorn definitely have their strengths, but can also be have some real challenges between them as well. Both are intense signs with connections to Pluto, the planet of power, and Saturn, the planet associated with ambition, respectively. While very attractive, these characteristics can also be intimidating and make long-term relationships hard, because these are both signs working on a different, more intense level. This is why, when they come together, it can be a powerful meeting of the minds. They finally found someone who really “gets” their level of drive and knows how to support them. Feeling truly seen is an incredible thing and can forge unbreakable bonds, making these signs, despite other differences, highly compatible.

Ultimately, Capricorn and Scorpio connections go one of two ways: They either go on-and-off-again only to fizzle out, or they connect and go all the way. With Bloom popping the question and Perry accepting, on Valentine’s Day of all days, I think it’s fair to bet that these two represent the latter scenario, and they can look forward to a long and happy connection. Sounds like a ~teenage dream~ to me.

Source: Read Full Article

5 Shows Like ‘A Million Little Things’ You’ll Love If You’re Into Emotional Mysteries

Season 1 of A Million Little Things concludes on Feb. 28, and it feels like a hot minute since this drama’s early promos were all we saw if we turned on ABC over the summer. Since then, the mysterious circumstances behind Jon Dixon’s suicide have drawn in viewers, while the present-day obstacles his family and friends face often have fans reaching for tissues. We have a long wait to go until the series returns for its second season, so if you need that twisty, emotional fix on your screens ASAP, check out some of these shows like A Million Little Things.

There aren’t too many shows with a "mystery" that include the realistic, everyday setting of A Million Little Things, so many of these picks fall into a fantasy or sci-fi category. That just makes A Million Little Things even more unique, but you might as well binge a fantastical show that will still lead to a cleansing cry. After all, I definitely need a break from dissecting Barbara Morgan theories and wondering if Delilah is ever going to tell the truth about her baby.

Even better, you can currently find all of these shows on streaming services. Grab your Kleenex and start theorizing!

1‘Lost’

Available On: Hulu

You might have missed Lost‘s original run from 2004 to 2010, but the mere mention of the show still probably sends your friends who watched into a state of mixed emotions. The series finale is a hit-or-miss among fans, but the journey to get there is heartfelt, traumatizing, and puzzling.

When a L.A.-bound plane crashes on an unknown island, its surviving passengers begin to realize that this is no ordinary beach. Combining philosophy with the telling of characters’ pasts and presents, the show includes plenty of mysteries about what exists on the island. Like A Million Little Things, some of these questions are drawn out over time, but your love for the characters and their struggles to maintain their identities in this strange place will keep you invested.

2‘Manifest’

Available on: Hulu

Wrapping its first season on Feb. 18, Manifest reminded a lot of people of Lost when it began. Both dramas kick off with an ominous plane ride, but in Manifest‘s case, a brief encounter with turbulence proves to be life-changing. When a flight finally lands after hitting a bumpy patch in the air, the travelers learn that their plane has actually been missing for five and a half years. Crashing on an uncharted island doesn’t sound so bad now, huh?

Characters try to return to their normal lives, but that’s a little tricky when everyone you knew assumed you were dead. The recovery process gets even more complicated when former passengers begin to experience hallucinations and strange voices. Enjoy deciphering what the group’s new side effects mean and watching them cope with their loved ones having moved on.

3‘Timeless’

Available on: Hulu

As the little show that could, NBC’s Timeless bounced back from cancellation twice for a second season and a TV finale movie thanks to fans’ support. For now, its fate is sealed, but this time-traveling mystery delivers a dose of knowledge, heart, and intrigue. After stealing a time machine model from the U.S. government, the thief embarks on a mission to change American history for his own benefit. A history teacher, a soldier, and an engineer are sent through time to defeat him, but they soon learn that he isn’t the only enemy they’re facing.

Not only does Timeless focus on both popular and little-known historical figures, but it also devotes time to the stories of women, people of color, and those who identify as LGBT. These plots often pack a powerful punch, while the friendships among the main trio may also cause a teary eye or two. A handful of action-driven resolutions keep enemies’ mysterious intentions fresh in viewers’ mind. Plus, how often can you say that you’re genuinely learning something from a TV show?

4‘Once Upon a Time’

Available On: Netflix

If you want your mysteries to have a magical twist, Once Upon a Time‘s fairy tale world is for you. Concluding in 2018 after seven seasons, the ABC drama first focused on classic storybook characters unknowingly living as ordinary people in a small Maine town as a result of the Evil Queen’s curse. While the bad guys are never too obscure on Once Upon a Time, you’ll get caught up in the romantic, action-packed adventures of Snow White, Prince Charming, and more.

Created by two former Lost writers, Once Upon a Time employs actors and concepts that are very familiar to Lost fans. If you’re in the mood for a less complex mystery that has far more happy endings, the series might be the best fit for you.

5‘The Leftovers’

Available on: Hulu & Amazon Prime (with HBO add-ins)

After two percent of the world’s population inexplicably vanishes one day, the survivors are still left wondering about the mass disappearance three years later. With several cults now growing in popularity as a result of the upheaval, the series initially focuses on the tension between one of these groups and those still grieving the loss of others. Co-created by Lost‘s Damon Lindelof, the series has that irresistible touch of "real world meets dystopia." It doesn’t hurt that the strong performances are totally worthy of your tears.

They may be a little more intense than the emotion of A Million Little Things, but hopefully these suggestions will keep you busy without updates about Jon’s potential double life.

Source: Read Full Article

What to expect from the 2019 British Columbia provincial budget

The B.C. NDP government will unveil its second provincial budget on Tuesday. Finance Minister Carole James says British Columbians should expect another balanced budget and because of the strength of the economy, there will also be some new spending.

Here’s a look at where the provincial government is expected to target some of that money.

Green energy incentives

In December, the provincial government unveiled CleanBC. The plan targets a reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and includes incentives for British Columbians to retrofit their homes, buy heat pumps and drive zero-emission vehicles.

Global News

The province has committed to unveiling what some of those incentives are as part of the budget and how the province will pay for the new program.

Funding poverty reduction plan

The NDP have talked for a long time about a poverty reduction strategy, both as the Official Opposition and now in government. Budget 2019 will be its chance to fund the plan.

There are a lot of elements that could go into the poverty reduction plan. The province is looking at the possibility of living wage pilot projects, increases to income and disability rates, homelessness support and the child benefit.

“Given that the provincial government has been talking about this since they came into power, this is really the time for it to put its money where its mouth is,” said B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition organizer Trish Garner.

“B.C.’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy should include an immediate, meaningful raise in income and disability assistance rates with a long-term aim of reaching the poverty line through successive increases.”

Fire funding

The summer of 2018 was the worst fire season in the province’s history in terms of forest burned. It’s also expected to be the most expensive, with provincial numbers estimating the suppression cost at over $568 million.

The provincial budget allotted just $64 million to cover the costs. It is now two years in a row that the actual costs of fighting the fires closed in on 10 times more than was actually budgeted. Premier John Horgan has mentioned in the past an interest in changing the way forecasts are done and also spending money to prevent fires in the future.

“It does make sense to increase that portion of the budget. But there are other areas where we want to be investing as well: prevention and clearing,” James said.

Expanded child care funding

A year ago, the province committed $1 billion over three years to child care. According to the government, tens of thousands of families are benefiting from child care affordability grants.

But what advocates are looking for is how the province doles out the cash in the second year of the plan.

“Child care in this province is one of the top two or three issues. It matters to families and it matters to the economy,” said child care advocate Sharon Gregson. “We are expecting $357 million and it matters how that money is spent.”

The province is also reviewing how the $10-a-day child care prototypes are working.

“Our approach is you need to invest in people because they help build a strong economy,” James said. “Because you can and should have both. That is the focus of Budget 2019.”

Property Transfer Taxes down

Property Transfer Taxes have been the goose that has laid British Columbia’s golden eggs. But after a year of measures to address affordability and crack down on speculators, the housing market is cooling and revenues from property transfer taxes have gone down.

Budget 2019 will show exactly how much that decrease has been and whether that will have an effect on how much can be spent.

Ferry freeze

Last year, the province froze ferry rates on major routes and reduced fares on non-major routes, and it’s committed to maintain the ferry rate freeze. But the government is also in the midst of a full review of BC Ferries, so it may take some time for any other major changes.

Interest free student loans

In the 2017 provincial election campaign the NDP promised interest-free student loans if elected. The government has already reduced the student loan interest rate by 2.5 per cent but hasn’t fulfilled the entire promise yet.

The NDP provided a hint that this may be coming with a mention in last week’s Speech from the Throne.

“B.C. students are struggling with the costs of higher education,” the speech reads. “Budget 2019 will help make life a little easier for B.C. students.”

Royal BC Museum

It was a coincidence that James spent her Family Day at the Royal B.C. Museum. The province will be getting some funding to modernize and protect historic holdings. Part of the funding will also be for better access to the vast collections that aren’t included in the current museum because of a lack of space.

Source: Read Full Article