B.C. finance minister says economy strong despite shrinking surplus

B.C. finance minister says economy strong despite shrinking surplus
Mike McArthur/CBC
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents the second-quarter fiscal update at the legislature on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Carole James has said that B.C. economy remains strong at the halfway mark of the fiscal year.

James said at a press conference on Tuesday that the province is forecast to lead Canada in economic growth next year, with the budget on track to deliver a surplus.

According to James, the province’s second-quarter fiscal report show a revised budget surplus of $148 million, which is down from $179 million from the first quarter and $274 million from the start of the fiscal year.

“We’re not looking for huge surpluses,” James said at a news conference yesterday. “We’re looking for investments in the people of B.C. We’re looking at investments that are going to help us both provide the services and supports people need, but also make sure we’re growing the economy.”

Despite James’ claims of a strong economy, the Opposition Liberals said James appears to be steering toward a deficit budget or imposing tax increases.

“After multiple budgets with no plans to grow the economy, John Horgan has squandered the best provincial economy in Canada that was built by the B.C. Liberals and now hard-working British Columbians are facing job losses, increased costs of living, and the heavy burden of the NDP’s raft of new taxes,” said Liberal finance critic Stephanie Cadieux in a statement.

James re-assured British Columbians during her press conference that the budget will be balanced in February, but suggested there are possible risks moving forward in terms of volatile lumber prices and declines in revenue from natural gas.

“The path forward isn’t without its challenges,” said James. “Certainly for B.C. as a resource-based economy with key corridors to the south and west, we’re not immune to global challenges.”

The Official Opposition also highlighted poor economic management by the NDP and states that in order to keep their commitments, the government will likely have to increase taxes or go into a deficit.

With files to The Canadian Press


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