February 18, 2020

Balanced B.C. Budget Invests $22.9 Billion in Infrastructure

The British Columbia government will invest $22.9 billion over the next three years into its taxpayer-supported capital spending plans — the highest level in the province’s history — for new and upgraded hospitals and health facilities, highway and transit projects, schools and housing.

The commitment was announced in today’s budget tabled by B.C. Finance Minister Carole James. It is the third budget by the NDP government of Premier John Horgan.

The budget is balanced in all three years of the fiscal plan. Total government revenue is forecast at $60.6 billion in 2020-21, $62.4 billion in 2021-22, and $64.2 billion in 2022-23, with surpluses of $227 million, $179 million and $374 million respectively.

In addition, the budget announced a 25-year agreement that will see $3 billion of gaming revenues shared with all First Nations; a new, needs-based BC Access Grant that will provide up to $4,000 to help low and middle-income students with the upfront costs of tuition; and $11 million to conduct a public inquiry into money laundering in the province. In addition, a major transformation of ICBC will reduce fees by an average of $400 a year for all drivers.

Total capital spending over the next three years, which includes taxpayer funded and self-supported commercial spending by agencies such as BC Hydro and the BC Lottery Corp., is expected to reach $32.6 billion. The investments include:

Transportation

  • $7.4 billion for priority projects including the Pattullo Bridge replacement, the Broadway Subway, four-laning on Highway 1 through Kicking Horse Canyon and improvements to highway corridors in Delta, Langley and along the southern coast of Vancouver Island.
  • The province is also funding an expansion of the SkyTrain fleet and upgrades to stations and facilities to serve growing demand and to support the Broadway Subway project.
  • A new Integrated Transportation and Development (ITDP) process will be undertaken by the ministries of transportation and infrastructure, municipal affairs and housing. This process will develop a collaborative vision for B.C.’s transportation and affordable development needs that contribute to an efficient and accessible multi-modal transportation network. The ITDP will help promote and develop seamless transportation connections.
  • As the throne speech noted last week, work is already underway on a long-term vision for transit and transportation in the Lower Mainland in partnership with local governments. This includes more options like rapid transit, HOV lanes and commuter rail out to the Fraser Valley, and high-speed rail connections to the south.
  • The government is committed to proceeding with a new toll-free crossing to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel. A business case for a crossing will be completed by this fall when the province will make its final decision on the scope, budget, delivery and schedule.
  • Full electrification of the inland ferry fleet by 2040.

Health

  • $6.4 billion to support new major construction projects and upgrading of health facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment, and information management systems. Major projects include redevelopment of the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, new patient care towers at the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and the Penticton Regional Hospital, replacing Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace and building a new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. The majority of the hospital projects are currently under construction.

Education

  • $2.8 billion to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities in North Vancouver, Sooke School District, Quesnel, Coquitlam, the Greater Victoria School District, Vancouver, Abbotsford, and an addition to Valleyview Secondary in Kamloops.

Ministry Capital Spending

  • $1.5 billion to maintain, upgrade and expand government ministry infrastructure. Current and planned projects include: the modernization and renewal of the Royal BC Museum, a new courthouse in Abbotsford and a new correctional centre in Nanaimo.

Housing

  • More than $1 billion over three years will support the construction of new low- and middle-income housing throughout B.C. This includes more housing for seniors, Indigenous peoples and families.
  • Budget 2020 also provides an additional $56 million for 200 new units of supportive modular housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • According to the budget, British Columbia is the first province in Canada to fund on-reserve housing.

Post-secondary education

  • $88 million for a new health science building for students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby and $10 million to modernize space at the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Vancouver and Burnaby campuses.

The full budget can be accessed here.