B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks to the legislature’s pre-Christmas session to approve more COVID-19 spending, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks to the legislature’s pre-Christmas session to approve more COVID-19 spending, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Rising income, real estate tax hold B.C. deficit at $13.6 billion

Cost of next COVID-19 payments up to $1.7 billion

B.C.’s deficit is forecast to rise to a record $13.6 billion for the current year, with some signs of recovery offsetting another $2 billion round of COVID-19 spending debated in the legislature this week.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson released the province’s second quarter economic update Dec. 17, two months late as the government struggles to keep up with the demands of the coronavirus pandemic. It shows an increase in the forecast deficit, $850 million higher than the first quarter forecast. B.C.’s economy is now expected to shrink by 6.2 per cent for 2020, with a “partial recovery” forecast for 2021.

The cost of sending $1,000 in borrowed money to almost all B.C. households whether they lost income in the pandemic or not, an October election promise from Premier John Horgan, is offset by better-than-forecast income tax and property transfer tax revenue, as well as gains in net income for Crown corporations such as B.C. Hydro and ICBC.

Estimated cost of the payments has been revised upward, from $1.45 billion in the NDP election platform to $1.7 billion in the latest update. It pays $1,000 to families with 2019 income up to $125,000, and $500 for single individuals who made up to $67,500 last year. Reduced payments are to go to families earning up to $175,000 and individuals making up to $87,000 in 2019.

B.C.’s export revenues are down eight per cent so far this year, but the forecast for natural resource revenue has increased by $156 million, mainly due to increased prices for lumber and natural gas.

The biggest boost to forecast revenues is $479 million more in property transfer tax, driven by rising real estate prices and an active market in recent months. Commercial Crown net income is revised upward by $363 million from the first quarter.

“ICBC net income is up $324 million, mainly due to savings from lower claims costs, Liquor Distribution Branch net income is up $35 million, reflecting a shift in consumption to home purchases, and this is partly offset by weaker B.C. Lottery Corp. income due to temporary casino closures,” Robinson told reporters Dec. 17.

RELATED: ICBC applies for 15% rate decrease as lawyers pushed out

RELATED: B.C. tourism calls for ‘bridge’ recovery from COVID-19


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

The public transit buses in Cranbrook — and the East Kootenay region — will be operating under the auspices of Trail Transit, BC Transit announced this week. (Townsman file photo)
East Kootenay operating services contract awarded to Trail Transit

The public transit buses in Cranbrook — and the East Kootenay region… Continue reading

'Gone Fishing,' by Lynn Taylor
Taylor’s dreams take life at Cranbrook Arts

Lynn Taylor grew up in Ontario and dreamt of being an artist… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read