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

Recognition for Mazu website founder Janice Taylor

Kelowna woman awarded alumni of distinction honour by Campion College

Kelowna child care centre selected to deliver low-cost universal child care

Kelowna’s Little Scholars program has qualified

Proportional representation not proving popular with voters in Central Okanagan

With three weeks to go, fewer than 9,400 referendum votes cast in three area ridings

Rockets lose double header to Winterhawks

Rockets fell 4-2 Sunday night

Comedy show to help Kelowna man paralyzed in crash

Warden is an incomplete C-5 quadriplegic, who was injured in a near fatal motor vehicle accident.

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Mother of missing Shuswap woman holds out hope she’ll be found

Nicole Bell’s mom urges public to report any information that might help

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Review: Okanagan Symphony dazzles with Verdi’s Requiem

Remembrance offering was months in the making

Video: Historic South Okanagan restaurant closes

Bittersweet ending for open mic night patrons and musicians in Penticton

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

Summerland fallen soldier honoured in Alberta

Percy Broad called to the bar, more than a century after his death in battle

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Most Read