B.C.’s strong economy: ‘AAA’ rating affirmed by all major credit rating agencies

Finance Minister Carole James

BRITISH Columbia’s economy continues to lead the country as the only province in Canada rated “AAA” by all three international credit rating agencies.

B.C.’s strong position is confirmed with Fitch’s credit rating report, the third and final international rating for the year.

“Our government is building an economy that benefits all British Columbians, not just a few at the top, by investing in our greatest resource – people,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “Our plan is working. Our economy is strong, our budget is balanced and we’re making investments in people and services to pave the way for a brighter future. These credit ratings signal confirmation from investors and financial markets that we’re on the right track.”

Fitch’s credit rating report highlights the province’s strong labour market conditions with “a declining unemployment rate, healthy wage growth, and continued employment growth” and anticipates B.C.’s “diverse economy will continue to grow faster than most other provinces.”

James pointed out: “The high credit ratings are also a signal to investors – both within B.C. and across borders – that our province is an attractive place to do business. B.C.’s economic strength shows that investing in people truly pays dividends, ensuring a strong economy today and into the future.”

The report also acknowledges the Province’s new cost-control efforts for ICBC and notes that these measures should improve ICBC’s ongoing fiscal performance.

Earlier this spring, credit rating agencies DBRS, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s all affirmed B.C.’s superior credit rating and economic health. Alongside Fitch, all rating agencies cited the Province’s prudent fiscal management and diversified economy as key factors behind the high ratings.

High credit ratings allow the Province to have lower debt servicing costs, which frees up funding for government priorities, including making life more affordable, investing in services people count on and building a strong, stable economy.

“AAA” affirmation is one indicator of B.C.’s economic health, and the province continues to be an economic leader with:

* the lowest unemployment rate in Canada for 22 consecutive months;

* a forecast to be among the provincial leaders in economic growth;

* one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios of all the provinces;

* the elimination of B.C.’s operating debt for the first time in 40 years; and

* strong employment growth above the national average over the last year.

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