VICTORIA, B.C. – Current Finance Minister Mike de Jong says that B.C. finished with a $2.8 billion surplus for 2016-2017, subject to audit by the Auditor General. The total is $1.3 billion more than forecast in the update provided with Budget 2017.
The news comes before a confidence vote is expected to take place in the B.C. legislature tomorrow, which could see the Liberals and Christy Clark fall to defeat.
The BC Liberals and de Jong say the economy in British Columbia grew by an estimated 3.7% in 2016, which was the highest rate among the provinces for the second straight year.
GDP growth of 3.7% for B.C. in 2016 was higher than the government͛s Budget 2016 forecast of 2.4% said de Jong.
“͞We took the benefits of a strong, growing and job-creating economy and directed them to increased funding for services, helping families with the cost of living and taking new steps to help promote home ownership,” said de Jong. “Almost $500 million of the new investments in Budget 2016 were funded through savings realized by paying down the legacy of deficit budgets in years gone by.
British Columbia saw the strongest economic growth among the provinces last year and some of the fastest job growth in more than 20 years. This level of economic activity helped provide the means to make key investments in services that matter most to people and ensures we have the resources to continue and enhance those investments.”
de Jong also says that the government invested an additional $1.9 billion in priority programs and services in 2016-17 compared to the previous year, making record investments in areas such as housing, health and education.
They said on Wednesday that because of their commitment to fiscal discipline and economic growth that helped reduce taxpayer debt, allowed them to make investments in the following areas:
- $758 million to fund housing initiatives
- $486 million increase in health care spending
- $256 million increase in education spending
- $137 million increase in social service spending of for child, youth and community living
- $193 million for the Lion͛s Gate Waste Water Treatment Plant Project
- $255 million increase in other sectors, partly offset by a $199 million decrease in debt
- service costs
De Jong also said provincial revenue totalled $51.5 billion in 2016-17, an increase of $3.9 billion over 2015-16, which mainly came from taxation revenue.
To view the full Fiscal Update Presentation from de Jong, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/PPP_Fiscal_update.pdf.