But economists from across the spectrum said James’s numbers match their projections, and aren’t a reflection of political ideology.
“This is a deficit that is almost entirely due to the impact of COVID-19 and the measures that the province has taken to try and support households, workers and businesses,” said Jock Finlayson, vice-president of the B.C. Business Council.
“This isn’t about the government opening the spending taps in an imprudent fashion. Normally we’d be mortified to see a deficit this large in the British Columbia context, but in the environment we’re living in today this is more or less what we’d anticipate.”
No government could have anticipated or weathered this economic storm, said Finlayson.
“For B.C. it’s going to take a couple more years, maybe a full three-year fiscal plan, before you can reasonably assume you’ll be back to a balanced position,” he said. “The only good news in that is we’re living in an era of record-low borrowing or interest rates.”