B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents first quarter financial results, Sept. 10, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James presents first quarter financial results, Sept. 10, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Slow home sales cool B.C. government revenues this year

Finance Minister Carole James releases first 2019 results

A 16 per cent reduction in home sales and a slump in the forest industry have reduced the B.C. government’s estimated surplus by $95 million, Finance Minister Carole James says.

Home sales fell by 16 per cent from April through July, compared to the first quarter of the last fiscal year, James said as she released the B.C. government’s first quarter results for the fiscal year.

Home sales fell by 16 per cent from April through July, compared to the first quarter of the last fiscal year, James said as she released the B.C. government’s first quarter results for the fiscal year.

James said the government will continue to monitor the effect of the speculation and vacancy tax and other measures, watching for housing prices come down so more people can afford to buy a home.

“I don’t think there’s a British Columbian, particularly young people who are trying to get into the market, who would say we have reached the affordability level,” James said.

Comparing the first quarter results to the budget presented by James in February, taxation revenue is $277 million below budget and spending is above. The finance ministry shifted $300 million from contingency funds to yield a surplus forecast of $179 million.

RELATED: 12,000 B.C. residents paying speculation tax

RELATED: B.C. housing prices predicted to fall in 2019

The biggest adjustment in the first quarter is property transfer tax, down $385 million from the budget. That was partially offset by income tax revenue, which came in $215 million more than budgeted.

Despite struggles in the forest industry and continued cooling of the housing market, the province’s private sector economic forecast council expects its annual growth for 2020 to lead the country.

Economic growth is forecast at 2.4 per cent for B.C., compared to 2.2 per cent for Alberta and 1.8 per cent in Ontario, according to council member Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank, Royal Bank, ScotiaBank and TD.


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