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

Play revolves around teenagers in thought-provoking dialect

Chemainus Theatre’s I & You focuses on the development of an unlikely friendship

Editorial: The parking paradox

The issue of parking in downtown Duncan is once again rearing its… Continue reading

Duncan Swin Team makes history at junior nationals

In the history of the Duncan Swim Team, fewer than 30 swimmers… Continue reading

Talking about dementia is different when your own family is involved

Wilkinson shares a special story about his own father

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Vancouver Island RCMP hunt for man after pair of indecent exposure incidents

Elderly Qualicum Beach woman grabbed by man who had been masturbating in the woods

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Pregnant teachers fight to change WorkSafeBC compensation rules

Agency does not recognize risk to unborn babies when mother catches illness from work

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Most Read