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

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

An officer fills up back of a police car with toys. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy RCMP give back to local community members in need

“We leave,” says Voller “but a piece of our hearts stays in each community we served in.”

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read