April 20, 2021

British Columbia makes record $26.4-billion investment in infrastructure in 2021-2022 Budget

Like its counterparts across the country, British Columbia is taking a two-pronged approach to its 2021-2022 budget: keep fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with critical health and social support measures while also investing in areas like infrastructure to create jobs and boost economic growth.

“Budget 2021 keeps communities strong as we fight COVID-19, while preparing our province for recovery,” said Finance Minister Selina Robinson as she tabled the budget today. “We are making record investments to build the hospitals and schools, transit and roads that our growing province needs.”

This includes a record $26.4-billion taxpayer-supported capital plan — $3.5 billion higher than in Budget 2020, making it “the strongest investment in B.C.'s history,” she noted. The investment will go largely towards health, education and transportation projects, which will help create an estimated 85,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The government also allocated $3.25 billion in pandemic and recovery contingencies, including $900 million to support the vaccination rollout and contract tracing. It will also introduce free transit rides for children 12 and under by September and permanent increases of $175 a month for those receiving income and disability assistance.

The province is projecting a deficit of $8.1 billion in 2020-2021, which is significantly less than the $13.6 billion deficit forecast in the fall 2020 update. However, estimates predict the deficit will rise to $9.7 billion in 2021-2022. A return to balanced budgets is expected within seven to nine years. British Columbia’s real GDP declined an estimated 5.3 per cent in 2020 but is predicted to grow by 4.4 per cent in 2021 and 3.8 per cent in 2022, reaching pre-pandemic levels by next year.

Infrastructure Highlights

Health care

  • $7.8 billion over three years for new and upgraded hospitals, including the Richmond Hospital redevelopment project, which has advanced to the business case review stage, and the New Surrey Hospital and Cancer Centre ($1.66 billion), expected to be complete in 2028; and
  • Investing in renewal and expansion of health authority-owned long-term care facilities. More than 20 projects are in planning. In total, the projects are expected to result in the replacement of approximately 2,850 beds, and the creation of more than1,500 net new beds.

Transportation

  • $7.6 billion in transportation investments over the next three years. This includes highway rehabilitation and upgrades, construction of the Broadway Subway, replacement of the George Massey Tunnel with a new crossing, and completing the planning for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project.

Affordable Housing

  • $1.6 billion over the next three years for new low- and middle-income housing; and
  • Up to $2 billion in low-cost financing to expand the Housing Hub program. This program will facilitate the creation of approximately 9,000 additional units of affordable rental housing and home ownership options for middle-income British Columbians over the next three to five years.

Education

  • $3.5 billion over three years to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K-12 facilities. This includes continued investment in new school space to accommodate increasing enrollment in growth districts, as well as in the program to seismically upgrade or replace schools.

Community Infrastructure

  • $147 million in new funding through The Stronger BC Economic Recovery Plan to further improve broadband and cellular access in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. There are also new investments to maintain and improve community and arts infrastructure.
  • B.C. will also provide $41 million over the fiscal plan to partner with the federal government in the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program for clean energy and community infrastructure projects.

Ministry Capital Spending

  • $1.6 billion in capital spending by government ministries to maintain, upgrade and expand infrastructure, such as provincial park amenities, courthouses, correctional centres, office buildings and information systems. This includes an expansion of BC Parks facilities and a new Nanaimo Correctional Centre.

The full British Columbia budget documents can be accessed here.