British Columbia will dip into the red in 2009 and will post back-to-back deficits as the province wades through troubled economic waters, Premier Gordon Campbell said Monday.
“I’ve been pretty clear – I hate deficits. I think they take away from future generations,” said Campbell, adding he has always rallied against deficits in his two decades in public life.
“In these difficult times, we all have to take actions that reach beyond ideology to protect the services that are essential in the short term.”
Campbell, who referred to B.C. as a “deficit-free zone” in his televised economic address in October, said the legislature would be recalled Feb. 9 to suspend the province’s balanced-budget legislation for the next two years.
Finance Minister Colin Hansen would not comment on the size of the projected deficits that he will roll out on Feb. 17, a day after the provincial throne speech.
Economic projections for B.C. dropped to zero growth in January, down from the 0.6 per cent growth forecast in September.
U.S. housing starts, which have a huge impact on B.C.’s forestry sector, dipped to 558,000 units in September, the lowest level ever recorded, Hansen said.
There were also commodity price declines for agriculture, minerals and metals, and oil and natural gas.
New Democrat Leader Carole James said in a news release that the premier was in denial about B.C.’s plummeting revenues and has “wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on pet projects like the B.C. Place roof, Olympic cost overruns and taxpayer-financed advertising campaigns.”