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B.C.'s projected deficit grows to $6.7 billion for 2023-2024 fiscal year

Last Updated Sep 27, 2023 at 2:13 pm MST

British Columbia's projected deficit in the 2023-2024 fiscal year has grown by more than $2 billion from original estimates to reach almost $7 billion. Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy arrives to the podium during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria, on Wednesday, August 30, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — Higher costs to fight wildfires and lower natural gas prices have forced a $2.5-billion addition of British Columbia’s projected deficit for this fiscal year, boosting it to $6.7 billion. 

The new projection comes as Finance Minister Katrine Conroy releases the province’s first-quarterly report for the fiscal year 2023-2024.

The latest update says wildfire expenses are $762 million more than planned for in Budget 2023, while revenue from natural gas royalties fell by $1.2-billion as prices declined.

The provincial economy preformed better than expected this year with economic growth forecast at 1.2 per cent, but the government says that is likely to slow to just 0.8 per cent, just over half of what was expected for 2024. 

Conroy says B.C.’s diverse economy and strong financial planning puts the province in a good position to weather global uncertainties like inflation and high interest rates.  

The minister said in February that there would likely be deficits “in the coming years” and that “things probably aren’t going to be quite as rosy” as last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press