Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the audited public accounts at the B.C. legislature Tuesday

B.C. budget surplus $353 million

The B.C. government finished the fiscal year in March with a surplus of $353 million by keeping overall spending growth below one per cent

The B.C. government finished the fiscal year in March with a surplus of $353 million by keeping overall spending growth below one per cent, according to audited public accounts released Tuesday.

It’s the first official surplus budget for B.C. since the 2008-09 recession, and a bigger surplus than what was promised by the B.C. Liberal government in last year’s election campaign.

Total program spending increased only 0.4% during the year, which Finance Minister Mike de Jong credited mainly to a hiring freeze and restrictions on discretionary spending in ministries. Health care spending rose $360 million over the previous year, which was more than $500 million lower than the forecast in the government’s post-election budget. Education spending was up $299 million, while spending in natural resource ministries fell $337 million.

The province stayed in the black despite taxation revenues coming in $402 million less than the budget forecast. Natural resource revenues to the province exceeded forecasts by $109 million.

NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth said the surplus budget was achieved “by picking the pockets of hard-working British Columbians” with higher fees and increases to BC Hydro, ICBC and other rates. Farnworth said the public accounts show B.C. residents are paying an extra $300 million a year in fees and licences, not counting the latest increases to BC Hydro and Medical Services Plan rates.

De Jong noted that the province’s total debt continues to rise, topping $60.8 billion including debt of BC Hydro and other Crown agencies.

“We are borrowing to build instead of paying for the groceries,” de Jong said of the additional debt, which includes $3.2 billion for schools, highways, transit and hospitals.

B.C.’s debt stands at 18.2% of gross domestic product, about half of the level of Ontario and the federal government’s debt-to-GDP ratio.

 

Just Posted

Confused about breathalyzer rules? Penticton RCMP clarify

New federal impaired driving laws spark confusion, concern about breathalyzer administration

Video: New Penticton studio is a playground for creative types

We toured Penticton’s newest creator space

Balmy winter forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

El Niño is anticipated to develop later this winter

Dementia journey the long good-bye

More than 70,000 people in B.C. have been diagnosed with dementia

Grants for Okanagan youth initiatives available

Project funding of up to $2,000 available for the South and Central Okanagan

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

Pregnant B.C. firefighter tries to save own house that caught fire

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

First Nation supporters march to Horgan’s MLA office

Dozens marched across the Greater Victoria community of Langford to support the Wet’suwet’en people

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of parked car has Kelowna mall customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Osoyoos chief earns induction to Canadian Business Hall of Fame

Osoyoos Indian Band chief recognized as one of the country’s most distinguished business leaders

Most Read