The province has earmarked $ 5 billion for immediate financial assistance for the coronavirus, of which $ 1.5 billion has been set aside for economic recovery.
The province also experienced a sharp drop in revenues associated with a significant drop in tourism and consumer spending.
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“We all know the profound impact that COVID-19 has had around the world, across our country and in fact right here in British Columbia,” said James.
“Tomorrow I will give a summary of this impact on our province, the impact on the people of our province.”
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Economists are mixed about the overall impact on the economy of British Columbia. The Business Council of British Columbia forecasts that the provincial economy will shrink 7.8%. Deloitte forecasts that the British Columbia economy will contract by about 5% this year.
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The financial outlook would be worse if a second wave of viruses came in the fall. A second wave could potentially lead to greater economic instability on a global scale.
“I wish I had a crystal ball that could show us where we’re going,” said James. “There are so many pieces, so many risks to come, that continue to show uncertainty. Whether it’s a second wave or a change in other jurisdictions that has an impact on our exports and the work we do here. “
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The British Columbia government has introduced legislation that allows it to legally run deficits. Previously, British Columbia was not allowed to run budget deficits.
In February, James presented a budget with a surplus of $ 227 million, but the COVID-19 crisis shook the foundations of the province’s fiscal outlook.
The federal government expects the national deficit to reach $ 343 billion this year. Finance Minister Bill Morneau warned last week that the national economy may never return to normal and there is no clear roadmap for when and how the government plans to curb spending.
The Ottawa financial snapshot shows a very real likelihood that the Canadian economy and consumer habits will not soon – if ever – return to what they were before COVID-19.
British Columbia Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says that even with uncertainty, the provincial government should come up with an economic stimulus package.
“The federal government has spent almost $ 7,000 per person in Canada and the provincial NDP does not even know how to spend $ 300 per person,” said Wilkinson.
“Many small businesses are about to fail this fall. We have families who are desperately trying to figure out what to do when school returns because they don’t know which days are school days and that it will really hurt working women because they won’t have the opportunity predictable work. ”
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