Skip to content

B.C. finance minister promotes ‘people first’ budget in Kelowna

Minister Katrine Conroy spoke to a Kelowna Chamber luncheon on April 16
B.C. Finance Minister Katrine Conroy speaks to a Kelowna Chamber luncheon audience at the Coast Capri Hotel on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (Gary Barnes/Capital News)

Despite recent downgrades of B.C.’s credit rating, finance minister Katrine Conroy says her government made the right choice by putting people first in the provincial budget.

That was one of Conroy’s messages for an audience that turned out to hear her speak at a Kelowna Chamber lunch on April 16.

“We know that by supporting people through tough times and providing key services and needed infrastructure we do build a stronger B.C,” she said.

Taxpayer-supported debt this year is approximately $71.9 billion and projected to reach $126.5 billion over the next three years, Conroy added.

Provincial revenues are forecasted to grow to $86 billion in 2026-2027, up from $77 billion this year, an average annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent.

Conroy said that calls to make deep cuts to services to reduce the deficit are not what people need right now.

“It would weaken the public services that we all rely on and drive up costs.”

Conroy noted that capital spending will increase to $43.3 billion over the next three years to support healthcare facilities, housing, schools, roads, and more.

Kelowna projects include shelters on Crawley Avenue and Highway 97 for people experiencing homelessness, and a new centre for food, wine, and tourism at Okanagan College.

As British Columbians face increasingly higher prices for food, fuel, rent, and other items, Conroy said the province has responded with help including the Family Benefit, and carbon, utility, and rent credits.

“Those things add up and it’s enough, we hope, to tide people over. We also have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and we’re training people.”

Despite the downgrade of the province’s credit rating, and not willing to give a date, Conroy said British Columbians will see a balanced budget.

“I told some investors ‘I could give you a date.’ But is it realistic? I’m not going to do that to people.

Moody’s maintained B.C.’s AAA rating but with a negative outlook. Standard & Poor revised their rating to AA, also with a negative outlook. Fitch Ratings affirmed its AA+ rating with a stable outlook.

“We continue to be the only province with a AAA rating in the entire country,” Conroy pointed out.

READ MORE: B.C. Budget 2024: One-off affordability boost for families, small cut to hydro costs

READ MORE: Budget 2024: Capital gains hike coming as the wealthy asked to pay more

Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
Read more