With BC on the verge of a possible change in government, the province’s Finance Minister says the economy is in good shape.
Mike de Jong provided a fiscal update Wednesday, on what he said may be his last day as the finance minister.
A confidence vote is expected Thursday in the BC Legislature which could topple the Liberal government which has been in power for 16 years.
De Jong says BC’s economy performed better than expected last year with GDP growth of 3.7 percent, tops in Canada.
“The majority of economic indicators in BC continue to paint a vibrant economy, that carries a lot of momentum, and as a result keeps BC at the top of the provincial growth rankings for a third consecutive year,” de Jong told a news conference.
De Jong says some of the key drivers were strong employment, retail sales and housing starts.
“Our forecast that we budgeted around was 2.4% growth. The Forecast Council was forecasting 2.7% growth and we came in, we believe, a full percentage point above that,” adds de Jong.
The minister says BC will finish the fiscal year with a 2.8 billion dollars surplus.
“Provincial revenue totalled $51.5 billion in 2016-17, an increase of $3.9 billion over 2015-16, driven primarily by taxation revenue,” says de Jong.
Operating expenses totalled $48.7 billion, higher than expected due to the cost of fighting forest fires and increases in health, education and other sectors.
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver says it’s encouraging to hear the economy is doing well, but the timing of the update so close to an expected non-confidence vote is unusual, and inappropriate.
“Normally, the government would not provide information related to the public accounts until they have been independently audited by the auditor general. They can only be viewed as draft at this stage; we must wait to see if they hold up to scrutiny.”