B.C.’s economy resilient, finances on track: Finance Minister James

THE Province’s second quarterly results confirm B.C.’s economy is strong and sustainable, with continued resiliency against global uncertainty and long-term planning that invests in people, says the NDP.

“Our government continues to show that investing in people while being strong fiscal managers is not only possible, it is fundamental to building a resilient economy,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance, on Tuesday. “With careful planning and foresight built into every stage of our fiscal plan, B.C. is well prepared to weather the global storm, while delivering on our commitments to make life better for people.”

British Columbia continues to lead Canada as the only province with a triple-A credit rating from the three major international rating agencies. The Province remains an economic leader, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, continued wage growth, among the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios for all provinces and a balanced budget that includes historic investments in child care, housing and infrastructure.

“Thanks to responsible, long-term fiscal management, our economy is resilient,” James said. “We are eliminating medical service plan premiums to deliver the largest middle-class tax cut in a generation, along with transformative investments in child care and housing, and building a greener future.”

The second quarter update maintains the government’s $500-million forecast allowance and increases contingency funding to $550 million to mitigate against potential risks to the budget, including ICBC and the forest sector.

Quick Facts:

* The second quarter outlook for 2019-20 forecasts a surplus of $148 million.

* An additional $100 million has been added to contingencies funding, bringing the total to $550 million. The full $500 million forecast allowance has been maintained.

* In 2019-20, the taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio projection improved to 14.6%, and the taxpayer-supported debt-to-revenue ratio is forecast to improve to 78.9%.

* B.C. led the provinces with the lowest unemployment rate for nearly two years – one of the longest periods of having the lowest unemployment in more than a decade.

* British Columbia’s real GDP growth is expected to rank among the top provinces again in 2019 and 2020 according to private-sector forecasters. As published in the First Quarterly Report, the Ministry of Finance forecasts 1.7% real GDP growth this year and 1.9% growth in 2020.

* In October, Standard and Poor’s reaffirmed B.C.’s ‘AAA’ long-term, stable rating.