Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BC debt hits new record high as Public Accounts released

British Columbia's debt reached a new record high $60.693 billion on March 31 and contractual obligations are nearing $100 billion.

That is according to the July 15-released Public Accounts for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The debt increased $4.877 billion during the year. The total includes $41.068 billion taxpayer-supported debt for government operations, education, health and transportation infrastructure and $19.625 billion self-supported debt from Crown corporations and agencies. The largest Crown corporation debt is $15.559 billion for BC Hydro.

By comparison, the accumulated provincial net debt was $45.154 billion as of March 31, 2011, just over two weeks after Christy Clark was sworn-in as premier. Clark earned derision from the NDP and BC Conservatives when she campaigned in a bus last year emblazoned with "Debt Free B.C." to promote her vision of a liquefied natural gas industry. The Office of the Premier did trim its purchasing card spending, from $402,848.38 to $395,220.26 in the past year. It is substantially less than the $475,015.19 spent in 2011.

The government brought in $20.262 billion in tax revenue in 2014, including $6.862 billion personal income tax, $5.5 billion provincial sales tax and $2.426 billion corporate tax. The tax revenue was down $210 million from 2013, due in part to the phase out of the harmonized sales tax. There was, however, a $110 million rise in tobacco taxes to $724.33 million.

Health was the most expensive ministry at $16.4 billion. Government Communications and Public Engagement spent $33.491 million, about $2.6 million less than its $36.147 million budget. Advertising traditionally takes a dip after an election.

The Legislative Assembly paid $30.474 million to suppliers. Think Communications, an information technology procurement, design and support specialist, was the highest-paid private supplier at $597,184. The biggest payment to a single person was $337,230 to conflict of interest commissioner Paul Fraser. Clerk of the House Craig James was paid $289,984.

Bring in the Crowns

Full-time equivalent employment in 2013 at reporting agencies and Crown corporations increased in 2014, from 4,508 to 4,640. B.C. Assessment Authority dropped by nine full-timers to 660 and B.C. Pavilion Corp. fell from 279 to 255, but BC Transit increased from 852 to 895.

B.C. Pavilion Corp., operator of B.C. Place Stadium and Vancouver Convention Centre, recorded a $10.505 million deficit on $111.05 million revenue. The loss was slightly worse than 2013's $10.215 million. While the convention centre recorded a $2.842 million profit, B.C. Place had a $13.347 million loss.

B.C. Lottery Corp., the statutory gambling monopoly, reported a rise in revenue from $2.731 billion to $2.808 billion. Its net income was $1.147 billion, compared with $1.125 billion in 2013.

Transportation Investment Corp. brought in $93.5 million from tolling and related revenues for the new Port Mann Bridge, but had a net loss of $87.84 million. Net income from operations of $17.2 million was offset by the $105.05 million in borrowing costs.

ICBC reported $3.9 billion in premiums and net income of $368.1 million, up from $229.165 million in 2012.

Liquor Distribution Branch net sales fell to $2.745 billion from $2.754 billion. The net profit was almost $877 million, down from $929.5 million. The report mentioned the March 27-announced sale of its East Vancouver property to the Squamish Nation, Musqueam Indian Band and Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. The price was not included because the sale is expected to close by fall. LDB will continue to lease the property with expectations that its new warehouse would be ready for 2017.

Veteran political and business reporter Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee. Find his other Tyee articles here.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus