At the 19th annual CEO breakfast, B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong and economist Mark Casaletto confirmed that B.C. will continue to be a beacon for investment and a driving force for opportunities in Canada. Speaking to a crowd of nearly 300, they re-enforced a positive economic outlook for the province.
Minister de Jong announced the government’s fourth consecutive balanced budget, and says that B.C. will be an economic leader in Canada for at least the next three years. He projects a surplus of $400 to $600 million this fiscal year, and that the growth will be “solid, steady, and stable.”
B.C. is now the only province in Canada with a AAA credit rating, and although the province has had an operating debt for just over 40 consecutive years, Mr. de Jong says the government is on track to eliminate this debt in the coming years. Most of the debt in the coming years is made up primarily of infrastructure spending.
However, Mr. de Jong says there are lingering issues in the competitiveness of B.C.’s tax structure that need to be addressed, and that “our economy has evolved a great deal since 1948 when the provincial sales tax was first created. A new commission to consider ways to modernize the existing tax structure will be formed later in the year.
GLOBAL INVESTMENTS COULD FLOW TO B.C.
Casaletto, a renowned economist and vice president and general manager at CMD Group Canada, says that B.C. is outpacing Canada on all key metrics and leading the charge on GDP and job performance. People are moving back to B.C. and they are finding work, demonstrated by a 1.2 per cent increase in employment in B.C.
“That points to confidence,” he says. The years ahead seem optimistic and encouraging for British Columbians, specifically within the construction industry as many projects are inching closer to getting to yes and breaking ground.
Casaletto says there is a trillion dollars of global investment that could flow into Canada, but difficult hurdles and stalled projects could sway investments away from B.C