Understanding British Columbia’s Public Management Challenge

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Understanding British Columbia’s Public Management Challenge

Despite substantial spending increases by the British Columbia government, the province’s health-care wait times have increased and student test scores have declined.

After nearly a decade of relative spending restraint, from 2016/17 to 2023/24 the B.C. government increased program spending by 23.5 per cent (on a per-person basis).

More specifically, during that same period, the government increased per-person health-care spending by 13.9 per cent—yet the province’s median health-care wait time increased from 26.6 weeks to 27.7 weeks.

And from 2016/17 to 2020/21 (the latest year of comparable data), the government increased per-student spending by 12.9 per cent, yet since 2015 student test scores (PISA) have fallen by 20 points or more in all three categories—reading, mathematics and science.

Meanwhile, due largely to spending increases, the province’s finances deteriorated from a budget surplus of $2.7 billion in 2016/17 to a projected $5.9 billion deficit in 2023/24.

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