The government of B.C recently released the 2021-2022 fiscal budget on Tuesday, with economists predicting a multi-billion deficit in the previous fiscal year. The authorities also announced that this fiscal year’s focus will be on post-pandemic recovery.
B.C has been in a state of emergency in at least 13 months. The pandemic has impacted its economy significantly. The province declared a state of emergency a month after it presented its 2020 budget.
The most recent forecast indicates the province is suffering a $8.1bn deficit in its last fiscal year, finance minister Selina Robinson said. This is down from the projection made in 2020, which said that they would suffer a deficit of $13.6bn.
The Minister credited this improvement to higher revenues than they had anticipated, which includes taxes they collected from retail and housing, as well as the fact that spending in that fiscal year was quite low.
Minister Robinson also said that the retail segment experienced the biggest monthly decrease that later rebounded. By the start of January this year, sales had grown 15.3 percent compared to the previous year.
The current budget has allocated $3.25bn in terms of post-pandemic recovery. This includes at least $900m that has been set aside for health-related coronavirus management including distribution of vaccines, testing as well as contact tracing, screening for COVID-19 and expansion of flu immunization.
Also, in the budget is $233m which is earmarked for childcare for the next three years, which part of the government’s 10-year strategy and $325 in terms of income and disability support, an increase of $175 from the previous figure.
As well, the budget has also doubled senior support for the more than 80000 that the government is currently supporting.
The current budget has also made provisions for spending on local tourism and parks thanks to an allocation of $83m that will be disbursed over a period of three years. Of this amount, a portion will go towards setting up 100 campsites in the province, beginning next year.
About $100m will be set aside to support the tourism sector, which includes $20m that will go towards the development of community destinations.