Finance Minister Carole James (Black Press)

Surplus decreased as B.C. wildfire, ICBC costs rise

Finance Minister Carole James promises balanced budget

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James released the province’s second quarter financial update Tuesday, downgrading the forecast surplus for the current year and using the bulk of the government’s forecast allowance to keep the books out of the red.

The projection at the halfway point of the 2017-18 fiscal year is a surplus of $190 million, down $56 million from the first-quarter projection. The biggest jump in provincial spending was $152 million to cover costs of the summer forest fire season. Forest fire efforts also accounted for most of a jump of 267 full-time equivalent B.C. government jobs in the summer.

On the revenue side, the biggest change was a reduction of $643 million in anticipated income tax revenues. James said that was based on the federal government’s update of personal and corporate income taxes collected during 2016, down from the previous forecast.

Another revenue drop of $109 million from earlier forecasts came in commercial Crown corporation revenue. That is mostly due to a downgrade of revenues from ICBC, which continues to struggle with increased claims and legal costs.

RELATED: Report warns of more ICBC rate increases

Other revenues continued at a healthy pace in the quarter from July to September, including property transfer tax, which has been the province’s cash cow during the hot real estate market in recent years. Expected revenues from that tax for the current year were increased by $175 million.

Retail sales also continued to rise in the second quarter, resulting in an upward adjustment of $51 million.

Another bright spot was forest revenues, with the provincial revenue forecast up $55 million, due mostly to higher timber tenure stumpage rates. B.C. lumber prices are near record highs, with high demand from the U.S. despite 20 per cent countervail and anti-dumping duties imposed by the U.S. government at the Canadian border.

B.C. Liberal finance critic Shirley Bond said the strong economic growth is a result of the previous government’s policies.

“Although the NDP inherited a $2.7 billion surplus, they have already managed to dip into British Columbia’s savings and they haven’t even fulfilled most of their major campaign spending promises, including $10-a-day daycare and a $400 renter subsidy,” Bond said.

James said the NDP’s child care and housing pledges are over 10 years, and can be achieved as long as B.C. continues to have strong economic growth.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Courtenay petition to decriminalize all drugs continues to collect signatures

A Courtenay couple is collecting signatures for their petition to decriminalize drugs in Canada

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

Comox Valley Cycling Coalition AGM upcoming

The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition will have a couple of special guest… Continue reading

Comox residents question redevelopment at emotionally-charged meeting

About 40 people filled the d’Esterre House in response to a community consultation meeting.

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

Courtenay receives second application for cannabis shop

Just one resident spoke at a Tuesday public hearing in Courtenay council… Continue reading

Most Read