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

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Take a tour of the holiday lights in Campbell River

Brighten up your holiday season this year with the Lights Tour in… Continue reading

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Design work for seismic upgrade of John Hart Dam continues

BC Hydro’s planned seismic upgrades to the John Hart Dam are targeted… Continue reading

Residents escape fire in Campbell River mobile home

CR Firefighters respond to mobile home fire this morning. No injuries reported.… Continue reading

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

B.C.-born hockey official talks to IIHF about switching European rule book to NHL rules

Rob Shick will represent NHL at 4th World Hockey Forum in Russia

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

‘Norovirus-like’ outbreak interrupts Bantam hockey showcase in Greater Victoria

Several athletes were sent home, quarantined on the ferry

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Most Read