COVID-19 impact turns B.C.’s 2019-20 budget surplus to $321 deficit

VICTORIA – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned British Columbia’s budget forecast from black to red.

The government’s final budget numbers show a deficit of $ 321 million from a projected surplus of $ 274 million for the 2019-20 budget.

Finance Minister Carole James says that while the first three quarters of the fiscal year saw steady economic growth, the province’s financial picture dimmed because of the pandemic.

She says declines in tax revenues, losses at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, and early measures to tackle the pandemic plunged the fiscal year into deficit.

In a fiscal update last month, James reported B.C.’s budget had been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a deficit of $ 12.5 billion for 2020-21.

She says the numbers are staggering with job losses of 235,000 since February and a predicted economic decline of 6.8 per cent by the end of this year.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press Aug. 31, 2020.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the projected surplus was $ 227 million.