Finance Minister Carole James presents the audited public accounts at the B.C. legislature, July 18, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Low unemployment, economic growth and the introduction of new taxes led the B.C. government to take in nearly $3 billion more than budgeted in the year ended in March.

Finance Minister Carole James released the province’s audited public accounts at the B.C. legislature Thursday, showing an operating surplus of $1.5 billion for the year, despite an increase in program spending of almost $2 billion in 2018-19 fiscal year. Taxation revenue alone rose $2.1 billion, and natural resources revenue also came in $695 million higher than expected in the 2018 budget, the first full year of the NDP minority government.

The employer health tax, introduced to replace Medical Services Plan premiums, took in $464 million, as the government continued to collect MSP revenues at half of the previous rate for the year. MSP is to be phased out at the end of 2019.

The speculation and vacancy tax imposed on properties in urban areas took in $115 million during the fiscal year.

RELATED: 12,000 property owners paying speculation tax so far

RELATED: Victoria council denies VicPD help with employer health tax

The province’s auto insurance company, ICBC, lost $1.1 billion that year, with soaring accident claims that have prompted an overhaul of rates and injury payouts. James said the reforms are being phased in and while there is some improvement, she expects another loss in the current year before ICBC covers its costs.

“When I say a slight improvement, I mean they lost less than expected, but they still lost,” James said.

Natural resource revenue was $695 million higher than budget, much of it stumpage income from Crown forests. A record summer for forest fire area also pushed protection spending $354 million above the budgeted amount.

Health and education spending exceeded budget by $688 million, much of that from more than 3,000 additional teachers added to satisfy an order of the Supreme Court of Canada.

B.C.’s economic growth for calendar 2018 is estimated at 2.4 per cent, third highest among provinces. The finance ministry says that growth was “led by goods-producing industries with notable gains in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, construction and manufacturing.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kevin Timothy to plead guilty to animal cruelty charge

He will appear at the Duncan courthouse on March 24

To serve and protect Harvest House Food Bank’s mandate

New measures implemented for continual service to the community

Updated contact information needed for continuation of education opportunities

School District to provide resources and support for students

North Cowichan works towards resuming services

Municipal staff doing what it can to meet certain requirements

Recycling centres keep winter hours with visitor restrictions and limited service

Traffic volume up to three times above the norm being experienced

‘The Office’ star John Krasinski offers Some Good News in trying times

‘The human spirit still found a way to break through and blow us all away’

Long list of events disrupted by COVID-19 around the community

Challenging situation affecting fundraisers, entertainment, sports and more

Trudeau promises $82B in economic supports in COVID-19 fight

The money will come through a combination of direct supports for workers and businesses and tax deferrals

Canada to spend $2B more on procuring medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

Government has signed deals with three companies

World COVID-19 updates: Putin may be exposed; 30,000 prisoners released

Comprehensive news update from around the world as of Tuesday, March 31.

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

‘This is no joke’: B.C. woman in Alberta hospital asks people to stay home during COVID-19

‘I want people to start listening to what the doctors are saying. This is no joke, please stay home’

Rest stops barring washroom access to truckers a ‘huge problem’ as COVID-19 spreads

Teamsters Canada says truckers are increasingly being denied warm meals

Canadians asked to wash mailboxes, keep dogs at bay, to ensure safe mail delivery

Four postal workers in Canada have tested positive for COVID-19 infection:

Most Read