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

Corey Harkness, who is free on bail, is slated to make his first appearance in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops on Dec. 14, 2020. A trial date has not yet been set. (COREY HARKNESS/FACEBOOK)
Accused in Cache Creek homicide will stand trial

Corey Harkness, 33, is charged with second-degree murder

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

The TNRD will no longer be offering free disposal days at its 29 solid waste facilities throughout the region. (Photo credit: TNRD)
TNRD votes to end free disposal days at solid waste facilities

Mattresses and tires on rims to be added to items that can be brought in at no charge year-round

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Most Read