Loading articles...

B.C. to give update on 'profound' financial challenge of COVID-19

Last Updated Jul 14, 2020 at 10:00 am PDT

Minister of Finance Carole James speaks to the media during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Summary

British Columbians are expected to find out more about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provincial economy

Province was predicting a budget surplus of $227 million for the current fiscal year before the pandemic hit

Finance Minister Carole James says predicting how long recovery will take would require a crystal ball

VICTORIA — B.C.’s finance minister will paint a picture of the provincial economy this morning, and by all indications, it’s going to be ugly.

The update is expected to show how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected British Columbians, B.C.’s businesses, and the local economy.

Before the coronavirus outbreak hit, the province was predicting a budget surplus of $227 million for the current fiscal year. Since then, however, several billions of dollars have been earmarked for pandemic relief and recovery.

Finance Minister Carole James says the pandemic has created “profound” challenges for people in B.C. and around the globe, fundamentally changing the ways people live and work.

She says the update will provide a summary of those impacts and outline the supports government has put in place and will continue to provide.

James says predicting how long recovery will take would require a crystal ball, with so many moving pieces.

Possible risks like a second wave of infections or shifts in other jurisdictions that would affect B.C. exports mean the timeline for economic recovery is uncertain.

The B.C. government has already tabled legislation giving itself room for three years of deficits and James says that will be re-examined each year.

“I’m afraid it’s a challenging time and you’ll see that in some of the statistics tomorrow when it comes to economic forecasters who have a wide range of what they anticipate could be coming,” she said Monday.

James is expected to deliver her fiscal update at 11:30 a.m. The leader of the B.C. Liberals will offer his thoughts Tuesday afternoon.