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NDP projects $5.5 billion deficit in 2022-23 budget

The provincial government tabled a budget today that calls for a $5.5 billion deficit in the 2022-23 fiscal year followed by a $4.2 billion deficit in 2023-24 and $3.2 billion deficit in 2024-25.

Among the spending plans Finance Minister Selina Robinson announced, $2.1 billion is being earmarked to prepare for and recover from climate-related disasters.

That includes $1.1 billion for disaster recovery costs over the next three years, and is addition to $5 billion that the federal government is providing.

A total of $145 million is being set aside to help the BC Wildfire Service “shift from a reactive to a proactive approach” by moving to a year-round workforce.

“The scale of the problems we have seen recently — from the ongoing pandemic to the devastating effects of climate-related disasters — require government leadership and collective action,” Robinson said in a prepared statement.

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“We know that the strength of our economy is intertwined with the well-being of people, communities and the climate.”

Among other highlights:

• Extra supports will be provided for youth aging out of government care, until they are 27. Presently the age limit is 19.

• Approximately 50 community-based sexual assault response organizations will split $22 million to support victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

• Zero-emission vehicles will be provincial sales tax exempt through 2027. Fuel pumps will also be PST exempt, but the PST on fossil fuel heating equipment will rise to 12 per cent as of April 1.

• New climate monitoring stations along rivers and a new “heat response framework” to predict where heat waves will hit.

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