B.C. finance minister Carole James delivers the 2019 provincial budget on February 19, 2019. Image via B.C government website/Flickr
On February 19, 2019, British Columbia issued its 2019 budget, which the provincial government stated is “the largest infrastructure investment in B.C.’s history”.
TAXPAYER-SUPPORTED CAPITAL INVESTMENT
B.C.’s 2019 budget includes new capital investment commitments in the healthcare, transportation and education sectors, with the taxpayer-supported infrastructure spending on hospitals, schools, post-secondary facilities, transit and roads forecast to be C$20.1-billion over a three-year fiscal plan. Key taxpayer-supported projects highlighted as part of the current and planned investments include:
- Education: In the education sector, the 2019 B.C. budget forecasts to invest C$2.7-billion over the three-year fiscal plan to support major replacement, renovation, expansion and maintenance projects in K-12 facilities, and a further C$3.3-billion on capital projects for post-secondary institutions. A key highlight is the C$450-million allocated for a student housing loan program over six years to build approximately 5,000 new student housing beds for the province’s post-secondary institutions.
- Healthcare: The 2019 B.C. budget looks to invest C$4.4-billion over the three-year fiscal plan to support major construction projects and upgraded health facilities, medical and diagnostic equipment and information management/technology systems, with investments supported by the province and other sources (including regional hospital districts and foundations). Key projects noted in the 2019 budget include:
- Phase 1 of the Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment in relation to which construction commenced in early 2017
- Phase 2 of the Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment where the procurement started in fall 2018, with construction planned to commence in 2020
- The new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in relation to which procurement is planned to commence in fall 2019 and construction is planned to commence in fall 2020.
- Transportation: An investment of C$6.6-billion over the three-year fiscal plan is forecast in order to “maintain the flow of people and goods” in B.C. Transportation projects highlighted in the 2019 budget include:
- Building the Broadway subway in Vancouver
- Replacing the Pattullo Bridge with a new four-lane bridge
- Interim safety and reliability improvements to the George Massey Tunnel.
However, in relation to the transportation projects, the budget flags that the timing of capital spending is subject to several factors including funding from the federal government and market conditions. MORE