B.C. Finance Minister Carole James updates B.C.’s employment situation under COVID-19 restrictions, B.C. legislature, July 10, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

A combination of emergency pandemic spending and a steep drop in expected provincial taxes has B.C. projecting a potential deficit of $12.5 billion this year, Finance Minister Carole James says.

In an economic update July 14, James released projections of a $6.3 billion drop in sales and income taxes, natural resource revenues and Crown corporation income. Spending adds the rest to what started 2020 as a balanced budget with a $227 million surplus, adding a $6 billion more to the deficit.

James said the remaining $1.5 billion of the $5 billion emergency fund voted by the B.C. legislature will be allocated for economic recovery in September, after the government completes a public survey and continues meeting with business sectors on how to proceed.

Beyond the emergency spending for business and personal financial relief, more than $1 billion of the additional spending is in health care, including lab testing, supports for long-term care facilities, health prevention and contact tracing for COVID-19, and mental health supports. Another $250 million has been directed to maintain child care services.

Nearly $90 million has been directed to temporary housing, meal and health supports, in addition to $110 million to buy hotels to move people living in encampments.

Crown corporation income is projected to be down $882 million from the February budget forecast, which James said is mostly due to the shutdown of B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos due to the pandemic. ICBC costs have declined in the early part of the 2020-21 fiscal year due to a reduction in travel, but that could change as pandemic restrictions on travel are lifted and more people return to work, she said.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson warned of the impact of B.C. tax deferrals that are expected to run out this fall.

“Back in May we suggested a 90-day break on employer health tax, sales tax and hotel tax to get the economy rolling again,” Wilkinson told reporters after the update. “And instead what we saw the NDP do is say, no, they’re just going to let it pile up until September, October and send a huge bill to all these businesses when they’re least able to pay it.”

RELATED: Canada, U.S. expected to extend border travel ban to late August

RELATED: Hotel rooms for homeless too hasty, NDP government told


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Coast company brings virtual whale watching experience to youth with disabilities

About 40 Easter Seals BC/Yukon children, youth and adults with disabilities were… Continue reading

Visitors and non-residents entering closed Hesquiaht territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

COVID- 19: Ucluelet encourages visitors and residents to mask up

“Put your ego aside, this is what needs to be done,” said Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel.

Frustration grows in Ucluelet as locked gate puts school garden in peril

“You walk by there and it’s just dead. Everything’s dry and yelling for water,” Liisa Nielsen said.

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

RCMP looking for missing teen in Comox Valley

Jenessa Shacter was last seen going for a walk in downtown Courtenay

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Most Read