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B.C. Finance Minister Carole James speaks during a news conference at the B.C. Legislature, in Victoria, on July 18, 2019.Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned British Columbia’s budget forecast from black to red.

The government’s final budget numbers show a deficit of $321-million from a projected surplus of $274-million for the 2019-20 budget.

Finance Minister Carole James says that while the first three quarters of the fiscal year saw steady economic growth, the province’s financial picture dimmed because of the pandemic.

She says declines in tax revenues, losses at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, and early measures to tackle the pandemic plunged the fiscal year into deficit.

In a fiscal update last month, James reported B.C.’s budget had been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a deficit of $12.5-billion for 2020-21.

She says the numbers are staggering with job losses of 235,000 since February and a predicted economic decline of 6.8 per cent by the end of this year.

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