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British Columbia reports budget deficit instead of expected surplus due to pandemic

VANCOUVER, Aug 31 (Reuters) - British Columbia ended fiscal year 2019/2020 with a budget deficit of $C321 million, a sharply worse outcome than the surplus that had been projected as the finances of Canada’s westernmost province were hit by the coronavirus pandemic, audited statements released on Monday showed.

The province had projected a budget surplus of C$274 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year ended in March.

Lower tax revenues and a C$295 million investment loss in Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the province-owned auto insurance company, clipped revenues. The government’s pandemic-related spending increased costs.

“The final quarter of the fiscal year brought many challenges,” the province’s finance minister, Carole James, said in a statement. “B.C. isn’t alone in facing these challenges, but we are in a strong position to weather them.”

The province is the only one in Canada to maintain a “AAA” credit rating.

British Columbia announced a projected C$12.5 billion operating deficit in 2020/21 when it released its budget in mid-July.

$1 = 1.3039 Canadian dollars Reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Leslie Adler

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