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ICBC woes could unravel B.C.'s financial security: finance minister

Last Updated Nov 26, 2018 at 10:52 am PST

File Photo (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130, Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Despite B.C.’s debt-free status and projected $1.3-billion surplus, the instability of one Crown Corporation could unravel the province’s financial security, according to Finance Minister Carole James.

ICBC’s projected deficit is so large James says she has built flexibility into the province’s finances to accommodate it potentially getting worse.

“The situation of ICBC continues to pose a risk to B.C.’s financial health,” says James, adding that she has confidence in the work being done by Attorney General David Eby to bring ICBC back into the black.

ICBC has posted a net loss of $582 million for the first six months of the fiscal year and is now projecting a year-end loss of $890 million.

Some revenues such as income tax have increased while others, including property transfer taxes, have decreased by $150 million.

James says her government has noticed “moderating” housing prices and sales in urban areas in recent months.

She says the NDP’s goal is to work toward “fair housing” solutions and noted that the cost of housing in B.C. has made it difficult to attract workers to the province, which continues to struggle with high job vacancy rates.

According to the update from the Ministry of Finance, B.C. is debt-free for the first time in more than 40 years and saw gains in petroleum, mining and electricity revenues.

However, revenue in the forestry sector is down $25-million, which James blames on the mountain pine beetle and a lack of available wood for harvesters and mills.