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

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Vikes coach joining Team Canada at Pan Am Cross Country Cup

Two-time Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff named to coaching staff

The Music of Cream touring band more than a tribute act

Ginger Baker’s son Kofi, Clapton’s nephew Will joined by rock stalwarts for 50th anniversary tour

Nainamo grew faster than Greater Victoria in 2019

Other Vancouver Island communities also recorded growth, but at lower rates

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citizenship, he was evacuated by the U.S.

PHOTOS: Victoria Cougars beat rival Campbell River Storm on Valentine’s Day

Cougars win 6-2 and continue to lead the VIJHL as playoffs approach

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

Most Read