B.C. growth forecast to moderate

Council predicts that economic activity will cool across province

Global economic uncertainty is being felt across B.C.

The B.C. Economic Forecast Council has lowered its growth projections for the province this year and next in light of the worsening global economy.

On average, the council expects B.C.’s GDP growth to be 2.2 per cent in 2011, down from its 2.7 per cent forecast in January of this year.

The council also predicts that B.C.’s GDP will grow 2.2 per cent in 2012 and average 2.7 per cent in 2013-16.

There is an increased risk of a worldwide double-dip recession, and both the province and the council agree we have to take a very cautious, prudent approach when putting together our next budget,” said Kevin Falcon, B.C.’s finance minister.

The ministry forecast in the September quarterly report that the provincial economy would grow two per cent in 2011 and 2.3 per cent in 2012.

The majority of council members predict B.C. will outperform the Canadian average in 2012 and encouraged the government to continue the pursuit to balance the budget in 2013/14.

“British Columbia is still expected to continue to outperform most other North American economies,” said Falcon.

“Our plan remains to balance the budget as committed. We will continue to monitor the global economic situation closely. The situation is fluid, and if it deteriorates further we will evaluate the global repercussions then.”

Falcon added that the government will make decisions in the best interests of British Columbians, and that includes fiscal discipline and focusing on jobs and the economy.

At a recent meeting, Economic Forecast Council members discussed their predictions for the B.C., Canadian and U.S. economies, including the risk of a double-dip recession, as well as the Euro-zone sovereign debt crisis and the potential slowdown in Asia.

The 14-member Economic Forecast Council includes economic forecasters and its mandate is to provide economic advice to the minister of finance in developing each year’s budget and fiscal plan.