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

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Bandstra Transportation photo)
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read