British Columbia’s Current Spending Peak: Highest in History, Highest Growth in Canada

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  • This research bulletin examines, inflation-adjusted, per-person program spending in British Columbia between 1999/2000 and 2022/2023 to provide a recent historical analysis of this important measure of government fiscal policy.
  • We find that, in inflation-adjusted 2023 dollars, per-person spending in British Columbia reached its highest point ever ($14,275) in the most recent fiscal year (2022/23).
  • The analysis also shows that per-person spending in British Columbia has increased quickly in recent years: spending is up 35.5% since 2016/17.
  • The rapid growth in British Columbia’s spending is unique among Canadian provinces. Alberta has reduced its spending since 2016/17 while several other provinces including Ontario and Saskatchewan saw much smaller increases in spending.
  • The unique spending growth in British Columbia has contributed to a negative change in the province’s fiscal trajectory. The province has ended a lengthy period of reduction in its debt burden relative to the size of its economy. Further, the province forecasts substantial growth in debt in the years ahead. These outcomes are directly the result of higher spending.

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