B.C. finance minister previews increasing deficit ahead of 2024 budget release

The B.C. finance minister isn’t revealing much ahead of Thursday’s provincial budget, but she is promising measures to help with affordability. Monika Gul reports.

By The Canadian Press and Charlie Carey

British Columbia’s finance minister says increasing the deficit in Thursday’s provincial budget is the right path to take in order to allow the government to provide needed services to people.  

Katrine Conroy says the government’s priorities will focus on helping people through times of high costs and forecasts of lean economic growth.

She says the budget she is slated to present will include a multi-year economic plan that forecasts declining deficits.

Conroy offered broad hints about the budget’s details during a news conference Wednesday at a Victoria neighbourhood community centre, saying it will focus on health care, public transit, small business, and housing for middle-income earners.

She says forecasts of economic slowdowns in B.C. and globally are convincing factors behind the government’s plans to continue funding programs and services rather than making cuts. 

The budget comes less than nine months before B.C.’s provincial election.

Meanwhile, UBC political science lecturer Stewart Prest says the NDP government has two paths forward with the election coming up later this year.

Prest explains this year’s budget can either focus on quick wins or long-term sustainable solutions that may not make for flashy headlines straight off the bat.

“The things that they need to do in the run-up to the election. And I think that we’re getting all kinds of signals that the government wants to be the party that can be trusted when it comes to dealing with affordability at the provincial level,” he told CityNews.

He explains David Eby seems more comfortable spending big money than his more cautious predecessor John Horgan.

“We know that there’s unmet need with regard to health spending in the province, and so that’s another area to keep an eye on if there’s new money available for an additional supply of doctors and nurses and the infrastructure of health provision, as well.”

B.C.’s budget is slated to be released after 1 p.m. Thursday.

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With files from Srushti Gangdev

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