February 22, 2022
B.C. announces investments in infrastructure aimed at growing the economy, recovering from fires, floods
British Columbia’s Budget announces new investments in the province’s infrastructure — $27.4 billion over the next three years, up $1.1 billion from last year — on hospitals, transportation systems and climate-resilient infrastructure.
The capital spending aims to help communities recover from the pandemic and build back from recent floods and wildfires, while also supporting 100,000 jobs across the province, Budget 2022 noted.
“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,” said Finance Minister Selina Robinson as she tabled the budget today. “We know that the strength of our economy is intertwined with the well-being of people, communities and the climate.”
The budget also includes pandemic and recovery contingencies of more than $3 billion up to 2024, more than $1 billion in new funding for CleanBC and the Roadmap to 2030 to help in the fight against climate change, and funding to create a new Declaration Act Secretariat to help bring B.C.’s laws into harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
. The government will also introduce anti-racism data legislation this spring to help government provide better and more equitable services to Indigenous and racialized communities.
British Columbia’s economy expanded by an estimated five per cent in 2021 and is forecast to expand by four per cent in 2022 and 2.5 per cent in 2023. The budget contains an updated deficit forecast of $483 million for 2021-22, less than the $9.7 billion projected in Budget 2021, thanks to higher revenues and federal transfers. It also estimated deficits of $5.5 billion in 2022-23, declining to $3.2 billion projected in 2024-25.
British Columbia’s total provincial debt is projected to increase to $125.8 billion by 2024-225.Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to increase by $29.1 billion to $90.8 billion over this same time period to finance the annual operating deficits and “to fund significant investments in capital infrastructure,” the budget noted, including $4.2 billion borrowed for education projects (K-12 and post-secondary), $5.6 billion for health facilities, $7.7 billion for transportation sector projects, $1.9 billion for social housing and $1.7 billion for other service delivery agencies and general government.
Infrastructure Highlights over the next three years of the fiscal plan include:
- $8.6 billion to support new major construction projects and upgrading of health facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment, and information management/technology systems. The projects include the new integrated hospital and cancer centre in Surrey, the Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan and the redevelopment of Richmond Hospital.
- $8 billion from the public and private sectors for transportation operating and capital investments to maintain the flow of people and goods to support the B.C. economy. Investments include constructing the new eight-lane immersed tube Fraser River Tunnel to replace the George Massey Tunnel, replacing the Pattullo Bridge with a new four-lane bridge (expandable to six-lanes) and moving ahead with the business plan of the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project.
Flood and Wildfire Recovery & Climate Change
- $2.1 billion to “build back better” from fires and floods and to protect people and communities from future climate-related disasters, including: $1.5 billion to help communities and build critical infrastructure back better after disastrous weather events in 2021; $600 million in operating and capital funding for continuing the response to climate-related disasters, disaster prevention and recovery projects, and to support British Columbians through future emergencies. This includes shifting BC Wildfire Service from a reactive to a proactive year-round workforce, as well as the implementation of a new Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy that includes expanding climate monitoring networks, expanding the River Forecast Centre and provincial floodplain mapping program, and building data collection and expertise to pinpoint where and how to mitigate climate risks.
- $3.1 billion to maintain, replace, renovate, or expand K-12 facilities. This includes continued investment in new school space and to seismically upgrade or replace schools.
- $4.3 billion in total capital spending by post-secondary institutions throughout the province. Investments in priority projects include construction of the recently announced $163-million Trades and Technology Complex at the Burnaby campus of the British Columbia Institute of Technology. This project will modernize the tools and spaces needed to help meet the growing demand for skilled tradespeople in B.C.
Ministry Capital Spending
- 1.7 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. Investments include:A new Nanaimo Correctional Centre will be completed in 2024, replacing the existing 190-bed outdated correctional centre and increasing capacity with a 12-room unit for women.
The full British Columbia budget documents can be accessed here.