Government of British Columbia 2023 Budget Unveiled

On February 28th, the Government of British Columbia released its highly anticipated 2023 Budget. This is the first BC NDP Budget to be drafted under the leadership of Premier David Eby.

An Overview

Guided by the aim of addressing the province’s most pressing challenges while also working to build a strong and sustainable future for everyone, The 2023 Budget has taken a prudent approach to fiscal planning in order to prioritize the issues that the Government has deemed most important.

The Fiscal Plan and Economic Outlook

The BC 2023 Budget has projected a $4.2 billion deficit that is expected to decrease annually to a level of $3 billion in 2025-26. As the province’s economy is likely to slow while prices and interest rates have steadily risen, the 2023 Budget has accounted for potential lower-then-expected revenues through an included forecast allowance of $700 million and an excess of $3 billion reserved for contingencies.  

With the total government revenue forecasted to reach $77.7 billion and the anticipated expenses of $81.2 billion, a near $4 billion deficit has been rendered. Despite this, the Government of British Columbia will invest $8.7 billion more in operating funding across the fiscal plan to support new priority measures and dedicate a record $37.5 billion to new capital spending in order to deliver on a multitude of the initiatives that Premier Eby vowed during his introduction to leadership.

Roundup of the Key Initiatives

The key noteworthy the 2023 Budget initiatives that are aimed at shaping the affordability and economy of British Columbia include:

Improved Health and Mental Health Care

In effort to mend and provide relief to the multi-faceted healthcare crisis that is faced by both the province and entire country, the 2023 Budget has provided an excess of over $6.4 billion over three years for comprehensive healthcare spending. This includes targeted investments to support the province’s new workforce strategy, treatment and diagnostic services.

Affordable and Attainable Housing

Much anticipated due to the creation of the new Ministry of Housing and the severity of the crisis, the Government has dedicated $4.2 billion over three years to improve the province’s state of housing.  As directed by the soon to be released refreshed Housing Strategy, the devoted funding aims to build and unlock more homes, provide increased supports and protections for renters, and address homelessness, all of which are paramount concerns for voters irrespective of their location within the province.

Rising Costs of Living

As the cost of living continues to soar in the province due to a multitude of interconnected, localized, and global factors, the Government has introduced numerous initiatives which are aimed to provide financial relief to British Columbians. This includes $1.3 billion in funding over three years to expand school food programs, increase financial aid for students, improve income and disability assistance, provide permanent increases to the Climate Action Tax Credit, introduce the Renter’s Tax Credit, and implement enhancements to the BC Family Benefit.

Public and Community Safety

In response to the growing concerns regarding the rising crime rates and the deterioration of public safety in communities throughout the province, the Budget has dedicated $462 million over three years to support the Safer Communities Action Plan, which has the overarching aim to improve public safety and the access to justice.

Sustainable and Clean Economy

As British Columbia is a province that is rich in natural resources with the potential to provide immense contributions to the economy, the Government has affirmed its dedication to pursue these opportunities in a manner that aligns with its climate change and sustainability ambitions. In order to advance this sector, Budget 2023 will invest $1.4 billion to support comprehensive economic development and climate resiliency.

Demonstrative of alignment with the Government of Canada’s direction to advance the clean economy, the Province has expressed its prioritization on developing and implementing its own British Columbia Critical Minerals Strategy, ensuring that labour transitions to the clean economy are just and sustainable and that reconciliation considerations and Indigenous partnerships are bolstered.

What to Watch

Overall in scope, the 2023 Budget is in alignment with the political direction that Premier Eby and his BC NDP government has promised voters, especially pertaining to affordability measures. Despite this consideration, only time will tell if the Government’s pursued investments and initiatives will translate from temporary financial reliefs to long-term economic solutions and opportunities for the province.

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