BC government declares $321M deficit for 2019-20 fiscal year

Aug 31 2020, 12:15 pm

The BC government has announced a financial deficit of $321 million for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The province initially projected a surplus of $203 million and says the first three quarters of the year showed “strong fiscal results.”

Unforeseen changes, such as declines in tax revenues, early COVID-19 pandemic measures, and ICBC losses, resulted in a poor fourth quarter.

The BC government says the pandemic had a $397 million impact on personal income tax revenue and $171 million on property tax revenue. Additionally, there was an investment loss of $295 million through ICBC due to “market conditions” from coronavirus.

Despite the deficit and impact of the pandemic, however, Minister of Finance Carole James says that she remains “encouraged that BC continues to show positive signs.”

Some of these indicators, according to James, include “improving employment numbers, robust capital spending, and the best debt affordability in Canada.”

“BC isn’t alone in facing these challenges, but we are in a strong position to weather them,” she said in a statement.

James adds that investments made over the past year such as eliminating MSP premiums and investing in childcare and housing “will make life more affordable” and allow for a strong economic recovery plan.

The provincial government also notes that they’re “in good financial standing with affordable debt levels” and the only AAA-accredited province.

Earlier this year, the new budget called for surpluses of $203 million for 2019-20, $227 million for 2020-21, $179 million for 2021-22, and $374 million for 2022-23.

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