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

VIDEO: Walnut Grove Gators basketball team post win in opening round of provincials

Junior Boys Basketball Provincial invitational tournament features 32 B.C. teams, three from Langley

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to the Lower Mainland, again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

Surrey-Langley curlers in the running again for gold

Junior men’s team out of Langley hopes to defend its world title Sunday, going up against Switzerland

VIDEO: Giants earn 40th victory in a 4-0 triumph over Victoria

Vancouver G-Men move within a point of clinching the B.C. division banner at Friday’s at-home game

Developers to unveil plan to transform Aldergrove mall into new town centre

Community to find out new Aldergrove Town Centre plan for dormant 10-acre lot in heart of downtown.

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

A ‘warm embrace’ for grieving parents at funeral of seven young fire victims

Mourners offered love and support to Kawthar Barho, mother of seven children

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read