VICTORIA — British Columbia’s latest financial report indicates a stronger-than-expected fiscal position in the face of global economic slowdown and rising interest rates.
The Second Quarterly Report projects a $5.6 billion operating deficit, lower than previous estimates.
Finance Minister Katrine Conroy notes the challenges of global inflation and high housing costs.
According to a release, B.C. achieved a $1.4 billion increase in revenue from improved tax results and additional federal funding for wildfire recovery.
The province’s debt-to-GDP ratio remains at 17 per cent, reflecting low debt-servicing costs and strong debt affordability.
While exports and consumer spending have slowed, the province has seen resilience in housing starts and population growth, projecting modest economic growth of 1.0 per cent in 2023.
The government’s focus remains on supporting residents by easing daily costs and investing in critical infrastructure like homes, schools, hospitals and promoting a cleaner economy. Infrastructure spending this year is pegged at $11.2 billion, funding projects such as the Nanaimo long-term care facility, St. Paul’s Hospital Centre, University Hospital of Northern B.C. redevelopment and Highway 1 improvements.
Employment in B.C. has grown by 1.4 per cent year-to-date to October 2023, bolstered by a net increase in private sector and self-employed jobs.
The population has also grown by 3.0 per cent year-over-year, aiding the labour market and reflecting a 25.1 per cent increase in net migration in the first half of 2023 compared to 2022.
Conroy will meet with the Economic Forecast Council next week to discuss the economy and future projections ahead of Budget 2024. The Third Quarterly Report will be released with the budget on Feb. 22, 2024.