Surrey Board of Trade Statement on BC Budget 2023

– Commitment to Surrey’s new hospital and other healthcare investments, SkyTrain from Surrey-Langley, George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, and Pattullo Bridge; no mention of tax review, specifics on skills training.

Today, the Surrey Board of Trade’s Policy & Research Manager, Jasroop Gosal, was in Victoria at the BC Budget lock up to hear the BC Government release their 2023 Budget and Three-Year Fiscal Plan before it was released to the public.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased to hear about investments in housing, schools, hospitals, and transportation with specific mention of projects that matter to Surrey’s employers and workforce,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “The Province’s Future Ready Plan to help train and attract talent in BC has little funds and no concrete plans, but we look forward to receiving more information in Spring 2023.”

“We are disappointed that a tax review and specific investments in skills training weren’t mentioned. We are also frustrated by the lack of investment in Surrey Memorial Hospital when compared to the investments made to hospitals north of the Fraser River.”


  1. $1 billion over three years towards a health workforce strategy to retain and train more doctors, nurses, allied health and health science professionals.
  2. $480 million over three years for the Future Ready Plan to close short-term and long-term skills and labour gaps with a plan to be released in Spring 2023. $39 million over three years is committed for a new short-term skills training grant.
  3. A refreshed housing strategy to be released by the Province in Spring 2023, funded with $4.2 billion over three years
  4. $37.5 billion over three years for infrastructure projects with $4 billion towards the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain and $1.724 billion towards the new Surrey Hospital and Cancer Centre.
  5. $462 million over three years towards public safety.
  6. Increase in earnings exemption by $100 per month for an individual on income assistance and $1,200 per year for an individual on disability assistance. This means people on income and disability assistance can keep more of the money they earn from wages without having their assistance payments reduced. Increasing the earnings exemptions creates more opportunities to offer people a chance to increase their household income, remain connected to the workforce, and build valuable work experience that can lead to a good-paying, long-term job.
  7. Increase to carbon tax rates by $15 per tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions annually and implementation of an output-based pricing system for large industrial operations with a new system in place by April 1, 2023. Performance benchmarks for industry will be announced in Spring 2023 and working with industry throughout 2023.
  8. $214 million in funding for K-12 school food programs.
  9. $6 million in operating investments towards a BC Critical Mineral Strategy.

The Surrey Board of Trade realizes that detailed strategies for the BC budget are to come.


  • Budget 2023 projects deficits (billions) of:
    • $3.592 surplus in 2022/23 (updated forecast)
    • $4.216 in 2023/24 (budgeted)
    • $3.754 in 2024/25 (planned)
    • $3.043 in 2025/26 (planned)
  • Total provincial debt at year end (millions):
    • $93,489 2022/23 (updated forecast)
    • $107,924 2023/24 (budgeted)
    • $122,607 2024/25 (planned)
    • $134,300 2025/26 (planned)
  • Real GDP
    • The Budget 2023 plan assumes annual real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent in 2022 (nominal at 11%)
    • 0.4 per cent in 2023 (nominal at 2.8%)
    • 1.5 per cent in 2024 (nominal at 3.7%)
    • 2.4 per cent in 2025 (nominal at 4.2%)
  • Revenue Outlook
    Total government revenue is forecast at $82.7 billion in 2022/23, $77.7 billion in 2023/24, $79.7 billion in 2024/25, and $82.2 billion in 2025/26.
  • Expense Outlook
    Total expenses over the three-year fiscal plan are forecast $81.2 billion in 2023-24, $83 billion in 2024-25 and $84.8 billion in 2025-26.
  • Capital Spending
    Taxpayer-supported capital spending over the fiscal plan is projected to be $37.5 billion.
  • Debt Affordability
    BC’s taxpayer-supported debt is projected to be $63.7 billion at the end of 2022-23, approximately $9.8 billion less than projected in Budget 2022. This improvement is attributed to better-than expected operating results in 2022-23, which was driven by fast economic recovery in some sectors and higher-than-projected income-tax revenues.
  • Contingency Allocations
    $6.4 billion over three years and $2.3 billion in 2023/24, $2.2 billion in 2024/25 and $1.2 billion in 2025/26. The contingency allocation is a prudent measure to provide for unforeseen costs that may arise, and to fund priority initiatives as well as CleanBC. The contingency provision is higher than normal to also account for costs for climate related disasters.
  • Taxes
    Non-residential school tax rates: Effective for the 2023 taxation year, the provincial industrial property tax credit for class 4 major industry is removed.
  • Business Support
    • $77 million to speed up natural resource permitting processes and work to modernize permitting service delivery model.
    • $480 million over three years for the Future Ready Plan to close the short-term and long-term skill and labour gaps. The plan will be released in Spring 2023. $39 million over three years for a new short-term skills training grant.
    • The Province will also endeavour to speed up foreign credential recognition.
  • Housing and Homelessness
    • $4.2 billion over three years with $2.2 billion in operating funding, and $2 billion in capital funding. Increasing BC Housing’s debt facility by $839 million (bringing the total debt facility to over $3.6 billion).
    • $394 million in funding to purchase transit-oriented development. The Province will work with private industry and is currently evaluating and negotiating sites that are within 800 metres of new or existing transit hubs.
    • $575 million in capital funding for public post-secondary institutions to build student housing spaces, to be distributed on a needs basis.
    • $1.5 billion in operating and capital towards programs to reduce homelessness, modular homes, complex care, and encampment response measures. $380 million in operating funds to unlock more homes and provide supports for people.As a first step, the BC Government recently announced an initial investment of 42 new full-time positions that will form a dedicated, cross-ministry team prioritizing provincial authorizations required for housing. 160 staff across several ministries will work to reduce permit backlogs.
    • 2% property transfer tax exemption to encourage the construction of new purpose-built rentals.
  • Public safety
    • $462 million over three years toward public safety. $230 million of the funding will help recruit up to 256 more RCMP members to British Columbia. $25 million over three years to support the first phase of modernization of the Police Act. Funding will be used to support community engagement and consultations to help inform new policing and police oversight legislation.
    • $7 million per year to support cannabis operations, including licensing, compliance and enforcement, and upgrades to existing systems and processes.

  • Transportation
    $100 million over three years for Active Transportation to connect communities and integrate active transportation routes between cities.
  • Infrastructure
    $37.5 billion over three years. Part of the investment includes the new Surrey hospital. The Surrey-Langley SkyTrain will receive $4 billion over three years.
  • Health
    • $2,180 million toward Vancouver – 548 inpatient beds, a new and larger emergency department, a surgical suite, consolidated specialty outpatient clinics and an underground parkade.
    • $1,724 million toward a net-new integrated hospital and cancer centre in Surrey.
    • $1,244 million for Phases 2 and 3 of the Royal Columbian Hospital Redevelopment. Phase 2 is an 11-storey, 348-bed, acute care tower including critical care and maternity, a new and expanded emergency department, a new surgical and interventional suite and an underground parkade. Phase 3 consists of critical enabling works to support the increased capacity and improve the delivery of patient care.
    • $184 million more over three years to support safer substance use.
    • $97 million in operational funds for complex care sites.
    • $169 million in capital funds towards more units of complex care housing.
  • Carbon Tax
    Increase to carbon tax rates by $15 per tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions annually and implementation of an output-based pricing system for large industrial operations.
  • Fiscal guardrails:
    Year-over-year declining deficits, targeted spending criteria, increased prudence levels, pandemic and recovery contingencies, transparent and timely reporting, and monitoring debt-to-GDP and debt-to-revenue ratios as measures of overall sustainability of debt. BC’s debt burden remains affordable relative to peer jurisdictions.

“We look forward to the year ahead to help guide the Provincial Government in creating an economic wellbeing budget to ensure we have strong economic stability and to advise the Government on implementation of the budget through policies and programs,” Huberman added.

Read the full Budget 2023.

Read the Fiscal Plan Backgrounder.


Anita Huberman, 604-634-0342,

Surrey Board of Trade 10 Point Economic Plan

    COVID-19 won’t be the last pandemic or disaster that we face. Governments can continue to unlock potential in primary care, digital and telehealth sectors to make these services efficient and accessible to all.
    Re-skilling and up-skilling must continue to be a priority. Governments need to continue to rethink and implement new learning and education systems. Best practices include adopting hybrid learning models, building skills-based learning modules, funding continuous learning courses, and creating virtual resource centres. Governments and employers can also foster an effective re-skilling ecosystem that includes micro-credentialing for lifelong learning.
    Companies will need to make their supply chains more resilient—for example, by reducing the number of unique parts, building in redundancy across suppliers, near-shoring, and regionalizing supply chains. In addition to securing health equipment and essential food supplies, governments can help companies increase their resilience. At the same time, governments may need to consider the policy implications of remote working in the knowledge economy: as exports of highly skilled services grow.
    Stimulus needs to work. Some best practices could include expanding green energy and energy efficiency; accelerating government digitization and offering companies incentives to adopt new technologies; and shaping the workforce of the future to increase resilience in the face of rising automation.
    Deliver contactless government. The COVID-19 pandemic has made digital transformation a priority— digital channels have become more important, and citizens and customers increasingly prefer them. Examples of best practices include automating daily data collection from key operators to closely monitor and support decision making about critical food items at risk, as well as the use of “express digitization”— rapid development of automated online platforms.
    Manage government balance sheets with an investor mindset. Many countries have applied traditional debt issuance, revenue optimization, and expenditure control to address the immediate challenge, all of which can be further optimized. Over the medium term—one to three years—governments could monetize the assets on their balance sheets, a strategy that represents a largely untapped and potentially greater opportunity to raise additional revenue and reduce deficits.
    Institutionalize best-practice crisis response to prepare for the next crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has pushed many countries to identify and start creating the elements of an effective local outbreak response. Several governments have established crisis nerve centres, enabling coordination of multiple work streams across existing crisis-response structures in government and society for greater response. Establish a plan-ahead crisis unit (for example for an earthquake or flood) —a cross-functional team freed from day-to-day crisis management that looks ahead and considers simulations of various scenarios.
    Make faster, better decisions using data and analytics. Assemble cross-functional teams to develop analytics solutions for faster responses to changing situations and emerging risks and issues. Next practices might include applying advanced use cases in data and analytics, such as nowcasting—forecasting the near future, present, and even the recent past using frequently measured indicators—to inform policy and decision making.
    Cultivate smarter, more productive ways for public servants to work. Automation could strengthen public-service productivity and move significant numbers of public servants from back-office jobs into more valuable and meaningful citizen-facing roles.
    Partnering with the private sector and multinational institutions to design and implement well-structured stimulus measures, can help government prepare workforces for a technology-focused future and improve the long-term competitiveness and resilience of key industries.