B.C. Finance Minister Carole James speaks at the B.C. legislature, June 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James speaks at the B.C. legislature, June 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

First round of COVID-19 cost B.C. government $600 million

Fall of revenue included $285 million for ICBC

The first bite of the COVID-19 pandemic cost B.C. $595 million, with plunging tax revenues and soaring spending reversing economic growth this spring.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James released the province’s audited public accounts Aug. 31, showing the initial impact of the coronavirus measures on the economy up to the end of March. A projected surplus was quickly replaced by a deficit of $321 million, $597 million lower than the surplus that had been predicted in the February 2020 budget.

The true impact of the pandemic is still unfolding. The province suspended business payments for sales tax, employer health tax and hotel tax, and has reserved $1.5 billion for further business relief may affect the final result.

The B.C. Liberal opposition has called on the NDP government to forgive the deferred taxes collected by struggling business. Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux, the party’s finance critic, said B.C. is lagging behind other provinces in developing an economic recovery plan.

“Today’s public accounts showed that revenues were slowing well before the pandemic,” Cadieux said. “This is entirely due to the NDP’s lack of economic vision and continued reliance on raising taxes to fulfill their plans.”

The B.C. Liberal opposition has called on the NDP government to forgive the deferred taxes collected by struggling business. The finance ministry has already estimated that the current year’s deficit will end up at $13.5 billion by the time it ends next spring, with an additional $1 billion borrowed this summer to match federal aid to transit and other economic supports.

James said the Insurance Corp. of B.C. saw $285 million less revenue that forecast due to the early weeks of the pandemic, with people cancelling insurance or delaying renewals. The pandemic effects include $397 million less personal income tax revenue and $171 million less in property taxes.

James emphasized that B.C.’s credit rating and debt were in a strong position to deal with the pandemic.

“We started with zero operating debt, a triple-A credit rating and the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” James said.

RELATED: B.C.’s potential deficit spikes to $12.5 billion

RELATED: B.C. moves to allow three years of deficits


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

There are few details but neighbours a Second Avenue house in Chilliwack say a huge police presence descended on the home after shots were heard. (File photo)
Robson search warrant yields fentanyl and weapons

Search warrant was part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation

Photo: Black Press file
Trail traffic stop yields stolen cheque investigation

Trail RCMP will continue its enhanced impaired driving enforcement this month

Reiner Jakubowski American Peony Society Registrar Nomenclature has named his latest Creation Castlegar. Photo: submitted
New peony hybrid named for Castlegar

Reiner Jakubowski has named his latest peony creation after Castlegar.

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Update: Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections, 4 in ICU

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital, 4 in intensive care

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

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

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Stock photo courtesy Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca.
Double-murder trial in case of Cranbrook couple killed adjourned until January

The trial was adjourned following an application from the defence related to COVID-19

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

(stock photo)
Josh Dueck named Team Canada chef de mission for 2022 Beijing Paralympics

Dueck, who was born in Kimberley, has a long career in international competition as a sit-skier.

Most Read