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. deficit forecast $12.8 billion after first three months of COVID-19

Taxes, resource revenues fell less than expected in pandemic

The impact of COVID-19 on the B.C. government’s finances has been as devastating as expected, but there have been signs of a stronger recovery in employment, real estate and retail sales.

Finance Minister Carole James released the province’s first quarter financial report Thursday (Sept. 10), projecting a $12.8 billion deficit for the fiscal year that ends in March 2021. That’s similar to the economic scenario released in July, based on the actual results for April, May and June.

The forecast went as high as $13.5 billion after the B.C. government authorized an additional $1 billion in borrowing to match new federal funds to B.C. and other provinces for transit, municipalities and other supports in the pandemic. The latest forecast includes a $1 billion contingency fund to reflect that, as the B.C. and federal governments finalize how the latest relief fund is allocated.

“Since the province’s July fiscal and economic scenario, we have seen stronger than expected consumer spending, housing activity and employment gains,” James said.

Since July, the province has seen better than expected employment gains, which slowed in the latest Statistics Canada report. B.C. Business Council chief economist Ken Peacock warned in his latest analysis that the job gains for August were less than June and July, indicating the “low-hanging fruit in terms of rehiring has been accomplished.”

RELATED: New B.C. jobs ‘won’t be enough’ when CERB ends

Much of B.C.’s unexpected revenue has come from property tax and property transfer tax revenues, real estate sales volumes recovering quickly and housing prices holding firm and rebounding by July.

James noted that B.C.’s economy depends on many factors outside its control, such as a potential second wave of COVID-19. That has prompted the province to boost health care spending by $1.6 billion for the current year, to add thousands of staff for senior care and double the capacity for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

RELATED: B.C. to expand COVID-19 testing, hospital capacity

Another big factor is the international economy, where B.C. is doing better than some other jurisdictions.

“In the April to June period, the Canadian economy saw the largest contraction on record,” James said. “Our neighbour to the east, Alberta, is forecasting a $24 billion deficit for this year. And the U.S. economy and the Eurozone saw their largest economic declines on record in this April to June period. Economic data suggest that the global economy could face its largest contraction ever.”


@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 Shore Rotary Club raises $20,000 with Golf Ball Drop fundraiser

Nearly 4,000 golf balls poured onto Olympic View golf course Saturday

Construction slows weekend traffic at Millstream overpass

West Shore RCMP recommend Leigh Road exit instead

TRAFFIC: Saanich emergency crews responding to Pat Bay Highway collision

Incident took place at Haliburton Road intersection

Saanich race car driver shifts gears as pandemic cuts U.S. season short

Bill Okell, 65, sets sights on Canadian racing circuit for 2020

Work on Sidney’s Reay Creek Dam won’t wrap until 2021

Municipality expects the pond to be ‘partially drained’ again in 2021

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read