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.

Just Posted

SOWK MP unsurprised by Scheer resignation

“It’s a very tough job being a leader of a party, and we thanked him for that service,” - MP Cannings

Penticton’s Barley Mill, Santa donate to SOS Medical Foundation

The brewery and local Santa raised $1,000 for the foundation on Dec. 7

Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce concerned about proposed business tax hike

The City of Penticton is considering raising the BTM to 1.83 per cent in 2020, 1.91 per cent in 2021

Give back to the BCSPCA this holiday season with Coldwell Banker

The Furry Paws for Santa Claus Holiday Fundraiser runs on Dec. 14

Summerland grape growers issue fundraising challenge

Gerry and Kathy Ryan have donated $5,000 to the Tree of Dreams fundraising campaign

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

Vernon bylaw says Frosty has to go: store owner

Vernon Teach and Learn told to take down inflatable snowman

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP surprised by Conservative leader’s resignation

Arnold predicts Conservative party will remain united in its quest to become government

Vernon business evacuated after gas line hit

A natural gas line was struck, emergency responders unsure of size

Most Read