OUR VIEW: Challenges ahead with B.C. economy

The province’s debt is rising at an alarming rate

As the Liberal leadership race gets down to its final days, and the new premier of B.C. is selected by party members, B.C. residents should take some time to contemplate the provincial budget, which was released a week ago to a collective yawn. As expected, it contained virtually no new initiatives, as there is no active government in place right now. Despite the lacklustre budget, there are a few noteworthy points. One is that government debt is rising at a breathtaking rate, with very little of that debt actually due to the current deficit. Most of it, in fact, is for capital projects, with much of that for B.C. Hydro. The debt could be close to $60 billion by 2013. When the B.C. Liberals were first elected in 2001, the debt was around $34 billion, and it didn’t move much past that figure until 2007, when the government started throwing a lot of money around – perhaps encouraged by the booming economy of the day. Finance Minister Colin Hansen took pains to point out expected growing revenue from the HST – $4.2 billion in 2010-11 (including PST revenue) rising to $6.5 billion by 2013-14. But there is no guarantee the HST will survive a referendum scheduled for September, and that could be moved up to June. The old PST, if reinstated, would not bring in as much revenue because it does not apply to as many items. One leadership candidate, Kevin Falcon, has proposed cutting the HST rate to 10 per cent. And if the referendum gets rid of the HST, the province has to pay $1.6 billion back to Ottawa. In other words, this budget has a great deal of uncertainty, and despite all the political song and dance, B.C. has many major fiscal challenges ahead.

Just Posted

Grassroots Kind Hearts guest list: Cassandra Little

Grassroots Kind Hearts is a society lead by Krisandra Rufus. They serve… Continue reading

Community members recognized at official opening of North Island Hospital Campbell River Campus

The community gathered yesterday to celebrate the region-wide effort that went in… Continue reading

Campbell River man guilty of unlawful confinement awaits sentencing

Richard Lawrence Love, who has pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful… Continue reading

City raising user fees, will attempt to address downtown flooding

Residential users will see increases averaging 4.2 per cent over the next five years

New mural the latest in Campbell River’s ongoing beautification

Mayor hopes public will suggest ideas for many more future projects

Run, hide, fight — surviving an active shooter situation

A former Kelowna cop teaches how to survive an active shooter situation

Trudeau mania, Scheer enthusiasm in B.C. this week

Prime minister, Conservative leader drop in on Surrey. White Rock

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness to kick off season

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

B.C. church defaced with disturbing anti-Christian graffiti

Staff at Crossroads United Church reported the vandalism to police late last week

PayPal ordered to disclose business accounts to Canada Revenue Agency

Online payments company has 45 days to hand over information identifying its account holders

Federal government to boost treatment options for opioid drug users: minister

More than 2,800 people died last year as a result of the overdose crisis

Ambulance design changes urged after B.C. man falls out, dies

A coroner’s jury makes recommendations after hearing about death of Ebony Aaron Wood

Drunk driver ticketed after wrong-way rollover

Nanaimo man crashes on Inland Island Highway near Qualicum Beach

MLAs unanimous on B.C. wildfire recovery

Finance committee calls for rapid salvage, reforestation

Most Read