Board of Trade concerned about projected $7.9B deficit in BC Budget 2024

Reaction to the BC NDP’s latest budget released Thursday has been mixed, with the projected $7.9 billion deficit a major concern for many, including the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

Bridgitte Anderson, the organization’s executive director, says while she is happy with some aspects of the budget, the deficit is cause for concern about future sustainability.

“We’re giving the budget a “C,” and that really is because there is some relief immediately for businesses, particularly small businesses around the EHT (Employer Health Tax), which was our number one ask,” she said, referring to the province doubling the exemption threshold from $500,000 to $1 million. The change will exempt 90 per cent of businesses from the tax.

“But we are concerned about the future, and what this means for tomorrow, when we look at the increase in debt…We are wondering about sustainability of this going forward.”

The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation expressed similar concerns, and B.C. director Carson Binda says the budget is disappointing and “gets a failing grade from the taxpayers.”

“We need to see the government restore some fiscal sanity, start paying down our debt, not adding ever increasing deficits,” Binda said. “The deficit this year is the biggest on record in British Columbia. It’s billions of dollars, more than we spent at the height of COVID.”

B.C.’s debt is poised to reach $123 billion this year.

With files from Hana Mae Nassar.

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