B.C.’s strong fiscal response, economic foundation support people: Finance Minister James

THE COVID-19 pandemic will mark British Columbians’ lifetimes in ways never thought possible, and the Province is investing in people, businesses and communities to see them through the pandemic and build back better, said Finance Minister Carole James on Tuesday.

“B.C. has made extraordinary investments in people and businesses through B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan and we will continue to provide the supports people need as the pandemic and the economic impacts evolve,” added James.

The B.C. government released an economic and fiscal update for 2020-21 to provide a summary of COVID-19 investments to date, as well as a scenario of revenue and deficit projections.

The government said it has supported people and businesses with $6.26 billion in COVID-19 supports to date. That includes the $5 billion in supplementary spending for B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan supports, such as workers benefits, rent supplements, income and disability assistance supports and economic recovery funding. These are in addition to $1.26 billion in other tax and relief measures for people and businesses, including the one-time increase to the climate action tax credit and property tax reductions for businesses.

With the pandemic response for British Columbians, and a significant revenue decline due to the pandemic, the Province’s total operating deficit for 2020-21 could be $12.5 billion, based on projections developed by the Ministry of Finance.

“B.C.’s safe restart plan is creating signs of hope for our economy as consumer confidence increases. These results have only been possible because of our strong public health measures,” James said. “As we continue our work to create a strong recovery, we also have an opportunity to build a stronger B.C. that works for everyone in our province.”

British Columbia has made progress flattening the curve because of its strong health policy and a commitment to help keep each other safe. The Province is building an economic recovery plan that puts people first, with input from British Columbians, businesses and community organizations – so everyone has a good job and a secure future, the government said.

“The pandemic has exposed underlying gaps in our economy and society,” James said. “We have been reminded of the need for strong public services and supports, workplace safety and our collective responsibility to take care of each other, and I’m looking forward to putting people’s input into action as we move forward with the economic recovery of our province.”

As part of the COVID-19 Action Plan, $1.5 billion has been earmarked for economic recovery measures to be announced in September.

Quick Facts:

* To date, more than 600,000 British Columbians have received the one-time, tax-free $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers.

* More than 80% of B.C. families received an enhanced climate action tax credit in July – helping families with up to an additional $450, double the annual amount.

* Over 200,000 people have benefited from the disability and income assistance crisis supplements.

* More than 81,000 applications have been approved for the temporary rent relief supplement to date.

* Over 250,000 eligible front-line workers will receive temporary pandemic pay, a lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period.

* Businesses are benefiting from an average 25% cut to property tax bills, deferred tax payments, BC Hydro rate reductions, eviction protection and rent relief.

* On average, private sector forecasters expect B.C.’s real gross domestic product to decline by 5.4% in 2020 – better than the decline of 6.6% on average across Canada.

To read the B.C. Economic and Fiscal Update 2020-21, visit:
www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/finances/reports/quarterly-reports (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/finances/reports/quarterly-reports)