bc economy

On B.C.’s minimum wage, good intentions are not enough

The B.C. government wants to raise the province’s minimum wage from $11.35 to $15.20 by 2021.

When tabling its budget, the B.C. government should learn from past success

Overall, the NDP added $4.4 billion in new spending over three years.

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Will British Columbia’s New NDP Government Abandon Past Spending Discipline?


  • In many respects, British Columbia can currently boast of having the soundest fiscal position of any Canadian province. While other provinces, including Ontario and Alberta, have struggled in recent years with comparatively large budget deficits and significant debt accumulation, BC recorded a $2.7 billion operating surplus last year (2016/17)—its fourth consecutive operating surplus and the largest positive fiscal balance among the provinces.
  • A key reason for BC’s favourable fiscal standing today is its relative spending discipline since 2001. After accounting for inflation and population, BC’s program spending increased at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent from 2002/03 to 2016/17—the lowest rate of any province. In Alberta and Ontario, program spending grew at faster annual rates—1.3 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
  • If BC had increased program spending at the same rate as Alberta, the province would today be spending approximately $54.5 billion instead of what it actually spent ($46.1 billion). If BC’s program spending had increased at the same rate as Ontario’s, its spending level would have been $55.0 billion—almost $9 billion higher than was in fact the case. If spending increases in BC had grown at the average rate of the Canadian provinces (excluding BC), program spending in 2016/17 would have been $56.4 billion, approximately $10 billion more than the actual figure.
  • From 2001/02 to 2016/17, BC ran nine operating budget surpluses and seven budget deficits, totaling an aggregate surplus of $10 billion over the period. Under each of the alternative spending scenarios, BC’s fiscal outcomes since 2001 would have been dramatically worse.

B.C. at fiscal crossroads—next week’s budget update will reveal path new government takes

Rhetoric from the campaign trail stressed increased spending and higher taxes.

NDP election win prompts waves of uncertainty that threaten investment in B.C.

Policy uncertainty can drive down business investment by between six and 10.5 per cent.

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Measuring the Impact of the 2017 Election on Uncertainty in British Columbia


  • Political uncertainty and policy uncertainty are linked and amplified under minority governments. Uncertainty in both spheres leads to lowered business investment and acts as a drag on the economy.
  • This bulletin uses a proxy measure of newspaper coverage of the terms “uncertain” and “British Columbia” from 2009-2017 to show which events and policies increase uncertainty.
  • The British Columbia measure shows that provincial elections have brought with them varying levels of political uncertainty, which were heightened in 2013 when there were concerns that the Liberal government might not win a fourth mandate, and in the most recent election held in May 2017, which resulted in no clear majority winner.
  • The 2017 election saw proportionately the highest number of stories that include the word “uncertain.” After previous elections, the uncertainty measure dropped dramatically and immediately, but that did not happen after the 2017 election.
  • The 2017 election stories focus on both the uncertainty of who will govern and about the policy uncertainty created by the alliance of the NDP and Green parties.
  • The policies most likely to be associated with uncertainty after the election were connected to energy and pipeline policy, taxation, and the economy.
  • If the government proceeds with its commitment to electoral reform, British Columbia could face more coalition governments, which would lead to persistent political uncertainty and more policy uncertainty.

Higher taxes, less competitive economy potentially on the way for British Columbia

The NDP-Green agreement calls for a 67 per cent increase in B.C.’s carbon tax.

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