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

Two fires of note burning in Southeast Fire Centre

As of Saturday afternoon there were more than 20 fires burning in the Southeast Fire Centre.

Firefighters snuff out another vehicle fire near Fruitvale

Quick action Friday morning prevents fire from spreading to trees and grass

‘Farm the Kootenays’ creates supportive community

Helping hobbyists and serious producers alike, the Facebook group has grown to nearly 12,000 members

Brother’s determination pushes Ryan Cunningham to cycle 2,500 km for heart care

#Cunnycan: Ryan Cunningham ‘pushing the envelope’ to support brother Craig’s foundation

Polishing up the Silver City diamond

The B.C. Major Little League Provincial Championship begins Saturday at Andy Bilesky Park

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

Ping-pong balls of fire dropped to merge two B.C. wildfires

The merger is considered successful by BC Wildfire Services

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

ZONE 1: Hannah Tracey looks to mom as role model while at BC Games

‘She has believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself,’ Tracey said at BC Summer Games in Cowichan

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

Most Read