BRITISH Columbia’s second quarter results show the province’s economic outlook remains positive, the Province announced on Tuesday.
“I’m encouraged by the second quarter results that show strong job and export growth, a lower debt-to-GDP ratio and continued key investments that build a better B.C. for all British Columbians,” Finance Minister Carole James said. “As we work to prepare a balanced Budget 2018, I am mindful of a number of fiscal pressures in the second quarter, including the cost of fighting wildfires this season and the continued losses from ICBC.”
B.C.’s GDP forecast is unchanged from the Budget 2017 Update, with expected growth rates of 2.9% in 2017 and 2.1% in 2018. The province remains on track for a balanced budget, even with wildfire costs further increasing by $152 million, and cost pressures from ICBC. Government’s revenue forecast for 2017-18 is $283 million lower than expected at the budget update, mainly due to the effects of weaker 2016 personal and corporate income tax returns.
Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $179 million lower than the Budget 2017 Update, and B.C.’s taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 0.1 percentage point lower than September’s projection, ending 2017-18 at 16.1%. The debt-to-revenue ratio is forecast to end the fiscal year 0.1 percentage point lower at 87.7%, due to a lower taxpayer-supported debt forecast.
“These results reinforce the importance of a focus on stable, sustainable economic growth that invests those benefits in the people of British Columbia,” said James.
B.C.’s economy experienced strong activity to date in 2017, with key indicators showing:
- Job growth is at 3.6% year-to-date to October 2017, the fastest employment growth rate among provinces, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 5.3% year-to-date.
- Retail sales are up 9.3% year-to-date to September 2017, with gains widespread across sectors.
- Exports grew 17.3% year-to-date to September 2017, over the same period last year.
- Year-to-date housing starts to October 2017 averaged 42,296 annualized units, an increase of 1.4% over the same period in 2016.
THE B.C. Liberals claimed credit for the state of the economy with its Finance Critic Shirley Bond stating: “The positive numbers in today’s second quarterly report show that British Columbia continues with a track record built as a result of the BC Liberal’s focus on economic growth and job creation. The report confirms that B.C. continues to lead the country with the fastest employment growth-rates, highest GDP growth and lowest unemployment rates.
“Stable, sustainable economic growth is simply not possible if this government continues to cancel projects, conduct multiple expensive, lengthy reviews and consultations without any sign of an economic development strategy.
“Although the NDP inherited a $2.7 billion surplus, they have already managed to dip into British Columbia’s savings and they haven’t even fulfilled most of their major campaign spending promises including $10-a-day daycare and a $400 renter subsidy.
“While today’s economic update reflects the hard work of British Columbians and the fiscal discipline the BC Liberal government, we will be very interested to see how the finance minister plans to balance the first full NDP budget since the election.”