B.C. expects higher than national GDP growth this year, but flood recovery costs still not tallied
The B.C. government says it's optimistic about the province's economic growth in the coming year, though the costs of recent flooding and extreme weather have not been fully calculated yet.
The Ministry of Finance says it recently completed its yearly assessment with the Economic Forecast Council (EFC), which is made up of 13 private-sector forecasters, and the new Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Advisory Council.
The EFC estimates that B.C.'s economy will grow by 5.3 per cent for 2021, and continue to rise another 4.2 per cent in 2022.
The province notes that this is a higher rate than Canada's overall GDP growth estimate, which comes in at 4.9 per cent for 2021, and 4.1 per cent for 2022.
However, the province says the total economic impacts of recent natural disasters could change these assessments.
"There are more challenges ahead, but forecasts signal the work we have done so far has put us on the right track and provided us with a solid foundation to continue responding to the pandemic and recent flooding and support a strong recovery for British Columbians," said Finance Minister Selina Robinson in a release Friday.
The province says some key topics were highlighted by the EFC and ESG Advisory Council during their annual discussion.
The B.C. government says the following issues were put forward as top priorities for the province:
- Climate change risks and impacts on people
- Housing affordability
- Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
- Trade tensions and supply chain disruptions
- Standard of living, poverty and inequality
- Diversity and inclusion
- Economic resilience and sustainability
- Natural resource development
- Policies and measures that build shared prosperity
The province's discussions with the two councils will factor into the next provincial budget, which is slated to be released on Feb. 22.
EFC members may also submit revised forecasts in early January, according to the Ministry of Finance.
"As we look to our recovery, we are aligning our investments with our priorities to ensure that while we grow our economic resilience, we are also making progress on addressing climate change, reducing poverty and inequality, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples," said Robinson.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has changed its guidelines on self-isolation and managing COVID-19 at home as the Omicron variant of concern continues to surge in the province.
B.C. health officials will provide an update on new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and other relevant data on Thursday afternoon.
Health officials have declared COVID-19 outbreaks at four more long-term care homes on Vancouver Island, while one previously declared outbreak has now ended.