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

RANCH MUSINGS: No till pasture rejuvenation and silvopasture trials: up-coming event

You can read about on farm research but seeing it and discussing it with others is a much better way

International students get history lesson at Little Red Schoolhouse

The Little Red Schoolhouse at 150 Mile House hosted six students from Matsuyama, Japan

Cycling club excited to open new beginner trail on Fox Mountain

Dubbed ‘Fox Fire,’ the trail parallels Fox Mountain Road from Mason Road to Ross Road

Watch: Blackberry Wood keeps the show going despite the rain

While a turn in the weather ended the night, the lakecity was still treated with excellent music

FOREST INK: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Jim Hilton discusses why who or what owns the world’s forests matters to the industry

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read