B.C. to spend extra $1 billion on COVID-19 aid, deficit to jump to $13.5 billion

The B.C. government will spend an additional $1 billion for COVID-19 aid in order to match federal funds for public transit and municipal governments, driving the projected provincial deficit this year to $13.5 billion.

Finance Minister Carole James provided the additional spending plan to the legislature Wednesday, adding to a provincial spending package she revealed publicly just one week earlier.

The money is on top of more than $5 billion set aside by B.C. to respond to the pandemic. James last week unveiled a projected $12.5 billion deficit for the current fiscal year, after B.C. lost more than $6 billion in revenue due to the pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $19 billion in aid to provinces last week, of which B.C. is set to receive roughly $2.2 billion.

Trudeau said the money is for health care, child care, the purchase of personal protective equipment and other needs. But the bulk of the money is earmarked toward operational deficits for public transit systems and municipal governments, which have had revenue sources collapse during the pandemic. The transit and municipal money can only be accessed with matching provincial funds.

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