Most economists have said government should spend what is needed during the pandemic to help people and businesses without worrying about the size of any deficit. The timeline and legislation James has laid out is reasonable, said Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the B.C. Business Council.
“It’s not ideal, but in the circumstances I think it’s defensible,” said Finalyson.
“If you had real confidence that the worst is over and we’re on a recovery and won’t see a huge surge of cases in the future, perhaps you could plan for a schedule to get back to a balanced budget. But the truth is we’re not in that world.”
However, Finlayson said any long-term deficit needs to be accompanied by increased financial scrutiny from the legislature.
The bill, if passed, also paves the way for government to spend money outside the normal budget process during the pandemic using “special warrants” from cabinet. Currently it is allowed in cases of a “natural disaster,” but the changes would broaden that to any state of emergency and add up to six months after that emergency for special spending that would not need to come back to the legislature for approval.