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

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Revelstoke City Hall. (File)
Revelstoke COVID-19 cases spike to 46

Mayor Gary Sulz expects positive cases to increase

Slocan Valley communities struggling with the need for high-speed internet should consider Kaslo’s model, according to the Kaslo infoNet Society. Photo: Black Press
Follow Kaslo’s lead for fibre service, says proponent

Tim Ryan of Kaslo infoNet Society says bringing high-speed internet to rural homes is possible

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Interior Health said its new toll-free line will help people connect to health-care services. (File)
Interior Health expands toll-free line to improve access to community care

By calling1-800-707-8550, people can be connected to several health-care services

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read