Victoria: British Columbia’s second quarter results show the province’s economic outlook remains positive.
“I’m encouraged by the second quarter results that show strong job and export growth, a lower debt-to-GDP ratio and continued key investments that build a better B.C. for all British Columbians,” Finance Minister Carole James said. “As we work to prepare a balanced Budget 2018, I am mindful of a number of fiscal pressures in the second quarter, including the cost of fighting wildfires this season and the continued losses from ICBC.”
B.C.’s GDP forecast is unchanged from the Budget 2017 Update, with expected growth rates of 2.9% in 2017 and 2.1% in 2018. The province remains on track for a balanced budget, even with wildfire costs further increasing by $152 million, and cost pressures from ICBC. Government’s revenue forecast for 2017-18 is $283 million lower than expected at the budget update, mainly due to the effects of weaker 2016 personal and corporate income tax returns.
Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $179 million lower than the Budget 2017 Update, and B.C.’s taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 0.1 percentage point lower than September’s projection, ending 2017-18 at 16.1%. The debt-to-revenue ratio is forecast to end the fiscal year 0.1 percentage point lower at 87.7%, due to a lower taxpayer-supported debt forecast.
“These results reinforce the importance of a focus on stable, sustainable economic growth that invests those benefits in the people of British Columbia,” said James.
B.C.’s economy experienced strong activity to date in 2017, with key indicators showing:
- Job growth is at 3.6% year-to-date to October 2017, the fastest employment growth rate among provinces, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 5.3% year-to-date.
- Retail sales are up 9.3% year-to-date to September 2017, with gains widespread across sectors.
- Exports grew 17.3% year-to-date to September 2017, over the same period last year.
- Year-to-date housing starts to October 2017 averaged 42,296 annualized units, an increase of 1.4% over the same period in 2016.