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BC governments ran $2.6 billion deficit last year: StatsCan

VICTORIA – British Columbia governments ran a deficit of $2.6 billion in the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2009 according to figures released by Statistics Canada today.

That includes a $1.4 billion deficit for the provincial government, plus another $1.1 billion for local governments, a StatsCan official said in an email.

The provincial government had budgeted a $50-million surplus for the year. Through the election and as recently as June 10 finance minister Colin Hansen insisted there would be at least a small surplus shown when the public accounts are released in July. “That is still my expectation,” he said.

Hansen was unavailable by publishing time. Nor were ministry officials prepared to comment on the accuracy of the figures in StatsCan's newsletter.

StatsCan shows B.C. governments running a $2.6 billion deficit in 2008-2009, down from a surplus of $1.8 billion in the previous year.

The figures come from the national Financial Management System and use a standardized method of accounting that may differ from what each level of government uses. Therefore, “FMS statistics may not be in accord with figures published in government financial statements.”

The main difference between StatsCan's figures and the B.C. government's is from how each includes capital expenditures, the StatsCan official said.

Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Alberta were the only provinces whose local and provincial governments recorded surpluses in fiscal 2008-2009, the report said.

The federal government's surplus was $883 million, it said, down from $12.8 billion a year earlier.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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