Finance Minister Mike de Jong shows chart of B.C. operating deficits and surpluses in recent years.

Economic growth means raises for unions

B.C. economy grew more than independent forecast, triggering pay increase next year as surplus 10 times forecast

The B.C. government exceeded its financial targets for the last fiscal year, and the economy grew enough that unions that signed on to the government’s growth sharing formula will likely see a small pay increase in 2016.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong presented the province’s audited public accounts Wednesday, with a surplus of $1.68 billion, almost 10 times the size it was forecast to be. That was due mainly to higher personal, corporate and sales tax revenue in the later part of the fiscal year that ended in March.

Gross domestic product growth came in at 2.6 per cent for the year, ahead of the finance ministry’s economic forecast council figure of 2.3 per cent. Public service union contracts signed last year included a formula to distribute half of any gain above that independent forecast, translating to a 0.15 per cent additional raise on top of negotiated increases.

De Jong said the GDP numbers must still be finalized by Statistics Canada, and the adjustment to pay levels for employees in the health, education and other public services who signed on will be made in 2016.

De Jong said he is tracking the steeply rising cost of the current forest fire season, and there is a contingency fund to cover whatever is needed. That uncertainty and international instability in Asia and Europe mean the government will not assume higher revenues will continue this year, he said.

Sales tax revenue exceeded budget forecasts by $322 million, and corporate tax revenue was up $208 million. Property transfer tax was up $128 million, and all other taxes brought in $254 million more than forecast.

Natural resource revenue decreased by $18 million from 2013-14, despite an increase in forest revenue of $35 million due to economic recovery. Less rainfall and snowpack led to a decrease of $74 million in power production.

 

Just Posted

The Smithers Airshow Society has flown the coop

Insurance rates, lack of volunteers grounded future airshows in Smithers but search & rescue benefits.

Telkwa Coal meeting for the neighbours

Allegiance Coal hopes to have a larger open house in the first quarter next year.

Babine Forest Product’s fine appeal not successful

The company has been ordered to pay the $1.01 million fine after the 2012 Burns Lake explosion.

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako continues to raise LNG pipeline concerns

Wood fibre use and spruce beetle concerns. TransCanada amends Coastal GasLink pipeline route.

Northwest figure skaters get special training in Smithers ahead of KlaHowYa

Smithers club looks forward to welcoming over 200 skaters from across the North Dec. 1-3.

Run, hide, fight — surviving an active shooter situation

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

Hammy dodges conservation officers

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Riverview youth mental health centre proceeds

Replacement for Maples Treatment Centre first announced in March

Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

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

Most Read