Fall fiscal update shows $13.6 billion deficit for B.C.

Fall fiscal update shows $13.6 billion deficit for B.C.
File photo.
The Fall fiscal update shows B.C. is nearly $14B in debt.

The projections were correct. The Fall 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update confirms the previously forecasted provincial deficit at $13.6 billion.

The province says this includes an additional $2 billion for new COVID-19 supports for British Columbians through B.C.’s Recovery Benefit and Recovery Supplement.

The Ministry of Finance says this third economic and fiscal update of 2020 continues to show the economic impacts of COVID-19 on people, businesses and communities, while 2021 brings hope to British Columbians with a path toward recovery.

“2020 has been a tough year for families, communities and our economy. I am encouraged by the economic improvement we’re seeing, but I know not everyone has been similarly affected,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance.

“We will continue to support people and businesses through this pandemic and into a brighter year with the first vaccinations already arriving in B.C.”

RELATED: First COVID-19 vaccination given in British Columbia

Although the fiscal update shows a deep deficit, the update also shows a lower impact on provincial revenues than projected in the First Quarterly Report, with gains in income, property transfer taxes and Crown corporation net incomes.

Partial economic recovery is predicted for B.C. in 2021, says the ministry, and the report shows continued areas of economic improvement in employment, retail sales and housing activity.

“The impacts of COVID-19 have been experienced right around the globe, and it’s going to be a while before a fiscal update for B.C. resembles anything like the pre-pandemic province we knew,” said Robinson.

In a release on Thursday, the province claims the economic and fiscal update shows both continued fiscal prudence and one of the most supportive and comprehensive COVID-19 responses in Canada, with more than $10 billion going out in COVID-19 response measures to support British Columbians.

Early on in the pandemic, the Province developed a COVID-19 Action Plan that included supports like workers benefits, rent supplements, income and disability assistance supports, and economic recovery funding.

In September 2020, StrongerBC laid out focused investments to try and help people and businesses through the pandemic and into economic recovery.

Although many have received help from the government through the pandemic, not everyone has seen the payout.

B.C. Premier John Horgan promised to provide 250,000 eligible front-line workers with one-time temporary pandemic pay — a lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period from March 15 to July 4.

The deadline to submit claims was October 31, but months later, thousands of hospital housekeepers and workers have not yet received the payment. 

B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is frustrated that these workers haven’t received pandemic pay, but that more money is expected in the New Year.

READ MORE: Horgan ‘frustrated’ healthcare workers haven’t received pandemic pay, ministry says money expected in January

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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