Cranbrook Chamber Reacts to BC Budget

Finance Minister Mike de Jong has unveiled his fourth consecutive balanced budget and once again the Chamber has declared that while not flashy it is a budget that will provide certainty going forward while the message is “stay the course”.

Overall the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce is pleased with the budget based on the government’s commitment to disciplined spending, paying down direct operating debt, and improving B.C.’s tax competitiveness.  Housing, Medical Services Plan, Children in Care and LNG dominated the budget.

The province is projecting a thin surplus of $264 million on revenues of more than $48 billion.  Despite this, the provincial debt will grow by more than $1.5 billion this year, to 67.7 billion, thanks to new capital expenditures.  It’s expected to grow to nearly $72 billion by 2017/18.

“While other provinces grapple with debt, deficits and economic uncertainty BC has balanced the budget for a fourth year in a row,” said Chamber Executive Director David D. Hull.  “This is the kind of certainty and stability that provides reassurance to the business community going forward.”

“It’s clear that is not by coincidence that B.C. will lead the country in economic growth this year.” stated Hull.   “The government’s commitment to strong fiscal management in recent years, as demonstrated in today’s budget, positions our province to remain ahead of the pack for years to come.”

The Chamber applauded today’s announcement that B.C. will establish a new Commission on Tax Competitiveness, with a goal of modernizing the current sales tax system.  “Keeping taxes competitive is crucial for businesses of all sizes in Cranbrook.  Tax competitiveness will help business of all sizes and encourage expansion and investment” said Hull.

B.C. boasts a low debt-to-GDP ratio of 17.4 per cent, which is exceptional when compared to other Canadian provinces that are ballooning upwards to 40 or 50 per cent. This has once again led to B.C. being the only province with a AAA-credit rating which sends a clear message to the international community that B.C. is a safe haven in which to invest and do business.

The government has committed to living within its means.  “The government has aggressively tackled its direct operating debt reducing it by almost 80 per cent over the past 10 years. At the current rate, its estimated direct operating debt could be completely eliminated by 2020,” said Hull.

Budget 2016 also includes several modest initiatives to support further economic development across the province, including: a Rural Dividend Program to strengthen and diversify rural economies, new money for highway maintenance, a further extension to the Mining Flow-Through Share tax and the Mineral Exploration tax credit measures.