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B.C. balances budget, expects $266 million surplus for 2014-2015

B.C. is on track for a balanced budget and an increased surplus, Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced Tuesday.

The province says the year-end surplus for 2014-2015 is projected to be $266 million, up $82 million from Budget 2014.

Revenues have reportedly improved by $515 million, but the province says they have been partially offset by higher expenses due to forest fires and floods.

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The province says taxpayer-supported debt is now $785 million lower than Budget 2014 – something that’s key to maintaining B.C.’s triple-A credit rating.

The finance minister used today’s budget announcement to reiterate the government’s position that public sector union agreements need to fall within the government’s so-called “affordability zone.”

“The current budget forecast is built around assumptions – that includes the assumption that all labour agreements will be reached within the current affordability mandate. Under the Economic Stability Mandate, public-sector employees have the opportunity to share some of the benefits if economic growth surpasses the Economic Forecast Council’s forecast for real GDP growth,” said de Jong.

B.C.’s real GDP is forecast to grow by 1.9 per cent in 2014, down one-tenth of a percentage point from Budget 2014.

Retail sales are up 5.6 per cent year-to-date in June, mostly due to gains at car and parts dealers, food and beverage retailers and gas stations.

Housing starts are also up 4 per cent over 2013.

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